There is something soothing about the powerful sounds of waves as they come crashing down on one another then roll under and back out to sea. Kelly Marie McQuate loved the beach and loved to sit and listen from our balcony as the stars lit up a show that was as priceless as anything we had ever known together. It was under these circumstances she informed me when we returned from Florida she would like to go back to school and further her education. It would be difficult being she was the manager of the family restaurant business. But she had her mind set and knew it was important for the future that she get a degree in business management.
It was not the first time she was determined to get an education. Finding herself a single mother with three young boys to raise she found time to graduate with a degree from Brown Mackie College in 2002. Later as a wife, while having one of our countless discussions about the future, she was very concerned about the education of our children. She knew for her children to have a better future they would need a good education.
On our way home from Florida, Kelly was hit and instantly killed by a drunk driver. The devastation was more enormous than one can imagine leaving her three boys and one step - daughter without a mother. In the wake of this horrific family tragedy a Foundation was formed to help grieving Quad City Area children who have lost a parent or sibling. Called the Ride With Kelly Foundation ( www.ridewithkelly.org ), it helps children with financial and emotional support needed in the aftermath of the loss. It is run by caring Board members who knew and loved Kelly and wanted to help children through very difficult times.
But as time went on I wanted to do more in her memory. I wanted it to be a permanent reminder of her life, something no one could change the course of. Something to last long after I was with her again.
The Community Foundation of the Great River Bend provided that avenue. After countless hours trying to decide what legacy to leave in her name, I remembered our conversations about education. And I couldn't help remembering how much she enjoyed planning our wedding and being a Bride.
The Kelly Marie McQuate Memorial Scholarship (KMMS) is an annual $1000 award given to a Quad City Area high school senior who has lost a parent. Currently there is funding for one scholarship award per year which is why I have developed kellysbrides4kids.org.
On the web and Facebook, kellysbrides4kids gives information and leads back to the CFGRB which administers the fund. It allows anyone, but is directed towards Quad City Area Brides, to make the Scholarship a part of their wedding by allowing family and friends to donate as a gift in the name of the Bride and Groom. As the saying goes - "we don't really need two toasters!".
As is any Endowment, KMMS is dependent on funding. Because it takes an Endowment of approximately $25,000 to award one annual $1000 Scholarship, it is my hope that people will take the time to give as little or as much as they can afford. It all adds up. It is helping a teen who has lost a parent to continue their education. And it is permanent - a constant reminder that something good can come from a family tragedy. That one person can make a difference in the life of a child. It would be the way Kelly would want to be remembered - helping children.