Families channel grief into lasting legacies

Daily Journal

Last month, Franklin FFA members hosted an annual fundraising breakfast to help buy stuffed animals for children at Johnson Memorial Hospital.

The Molly Gibson breakfast at Franklin Community High School’s agriculture shop was free, but donations of a Pooh Bear stuffed animal and money were accepted for the Pooh Bears for Molly program at the hospital.

The breakfast honors Gibson, a Franklin teenager who died after a car accident in 1998. Her parents and friends started the effort because of her love of Pooh characters and as a way to remember her.

This effort to turn grief into action isn’t the only one of its kind. At Indian Creek High School, the annual Carrie Clayburn Memorial Dinner raises money for a scholarship in Clayburn’s name. Pork chops are provided by the Indian Creek FFA, and a smorgasbord dinner is provided by area churches.

Clayburn was active in 4-H and was a member of an FFA soil judging team. She died in 1998 of acute hemorrhagic pancreatitis.

Cheryl Bauer and Rachel Cline started Megan’s Fund in 2006, with a goal of buying presents and necessities, such as shampoo and socks, for a few families at Christmas. Now, their charity buys gifts for dozens of children a year and donates items to countless more.

They created Megan’s Fund in memory of Bauer’s daughter, Megan Williams, a Center Grove High School junior who died in a car accident in December 2005 while she was buying presents for the Children’s Bureau in Indianapolis.

Williams loved buying presents for children who didn’t have any, Bauer said, and she wanted the group to carry out her daughter’s mission.

“We’re trying to make the best out of a bad situation. I don’t think (Megan) realized how many people she actually touched or could ever touch. I think she would be completely amazed and humbled to know how many people thought of her and wanted to continue the work she was doing,” Bauer said.

Making the best of a bad situation is what these families and many more across Johnson County have done. We salute them for their compassion in the face of personal tragedy.

The death of a young person is especially hard for families to cope with. But these local families and many others have channeled their anguish into programs that serve as lasting monuments to their lost loved ones.

At issue

The death of a young person is especially hard for families.

Our point

Several local families have transformed their grief into lasting monuments that help others.