Todd and Stephanie Dickard describe their family experience as ‘a story of ayoung person who made an impression.’ It’s a sad story, but it’s one where grief finds an outlet in the power of doing good.
Todd and Stephanie’s daughter Carley died at the age of 16 in 2006 from a brain tumor. ‘She was a special kid,’ her dad said. ‘Cute. Hard-working.’ Her mom added, ‘Smart. Educated. She liked school, her friends and her family.’
Carley gave her all in school. She was a straight-A student. Stephanie said, ‘She’s the kind of student every teacher always wants.’ She gave her all on the athletic field, too. Soccer was her game. As a sophomore, she was a starter on the team even though she had to wear special glasses to correct the double-vision caused by the tumor. ‘Carley was trying so hard,’ Todd remembered, ‘to keep a normal life.’
Through her adversity, Carley remained a giving person. Todd said, ‘One of the things I loved most about my daughter was her compassion. If you were a decent kid, no matter what you looked like or what your background was, she was going to show some feeling for you. She hoped that people would do that for her, too.’
People did respond when she became ill, as successful community fund-raisers proved. But the best care couldn’t heal Carley. After her death, the Dickards placed the majority of the remaining funds with the Unity Foundation to create the Carley Dickard Memorial Scholarship. ‘The community, with their love for Carley, deserves credit for the seed that was the origin of the fund,’ the Dickards said.
They chose Unity because it was local, perpetual and professionally managed. ‘Here, it’s tangible,’ Stephanie said. ‘You meet the person it goes to. You see what future direction they’re taking.’ Two students have been awarded scholarships, and Todd and Stephanie continue to receive amazing community support as they grow the fund.
The Dickards are looking forward to helping many students in the coming years. Todd said, ‘There are a lot of great young people out there.’
You can support the Carley Dickard Memorial Scholarship, which awards up to $1,000 to LaPorte County or Porter County students/athletes who maintain a GPA of ‘B’ or better, and who possess the character of Carley Dickard by ‘giving their all’ in life.