The 35th annual Susan Fund Awards Ceremony was held on Sunday, June 28th at The Center for Survivorship in Southport. The mood was joyful as the scholarship recipients, their families and friends, Board members and invited guests gathered to celebrate their academic and personal achievements.
Jeff Keith, Director of The Center, and one of the first recipients of The Susan Fund scholarship, welcomed the attendees and reflected on his personal journey. “Not a day goes by when I don’t remember Susan. I was a student at Fairfield Prep and she was attending Staples High School. We were diagnosed at the same time. I survived and she did not. This influenced my decision to dedicate the rest of my life to raising money and providing on-going support services for people diagnosed with cancer.” The CT Challenge Bike Ride provides the funds and The Center for Survivorship provides the services and support. As in the past, each recipient was presented with a one year membership to The Center which includes personal training sessions and access to classes. Jeff concluded his welcome by awarding a check for $ 25,000 to Ann Lloyd, Susan’s mother and president of The Susan Fund. She thanked Jeff not only for his continued support, but for hosting the awards ceremony for the past three years.
Ann reflected that this year we are celebrating the 35th anniversary of The Susan Fund. In 1982, scholarships were awarded to six recipients. In 2016, we awarded 29! Susan’s brother, David, shared his thoughts about what made Susan such a special human being. “She loved life and embraced it. She radiated the spirit of Christmas throughout the year. As Susan battled cancer, she worried about how our family was doing. She went through a leg amputation, chemo and radiation and never stopped looking forward to attending college. This is the philosophy that The Susan Fund scholars have embraced.”
This year’s speaker was Logan Barer, a four-year scholarship recipient. Although he had prepared a speech, he told the audience that he was going to speak from his heart. Logan noted that, although receiving the financial support is important, the emotional support is more significant. “Just knowing that there are people there who are holding you, who have been through the worst thing that people go through is so important. The Susan Fund is that constant, no matter what we are facing. That feeling is what makes me truly happy to be able to give back through participating in the Troupe du Jour fundraiser.”
The ceremony concluded with Board member, Kathy DiGiovanna, awarding the scholarships. She stated that, this year, The Board awarded the most money ever. She introduced each recipient and captured the essence of each person’s journey. As Kathy stated, “Our scholars are outstanding, courageous and intelligent. They are mature beyond their years. Today is our scholar’s day to celebrate life. We are fortunate to share in their glow.”