In the aftermath of Kaitlin Geraghty’s death last December, the 2014 Oceanside High School graduate’s friends and family have banded together to create a scholarship fund in her name. On May 30, a fundraiser at Kitty O’Hara’s in Baldwin will raise money for the memorial scholarship, which will be awarded to a senior graduating from OHS in 2020.
Kaitlin’s loved ones remember her passion for helping those in need, especially people with physical and mental disabilities. “Her whole goal was to advocate for people who could not advocate for themselves,” said her mother, Rachel Geraghty. “I want to continue her work.”
Depending on the amount raised, Rachel hopes the scholarship will go to two students each year — one with a disability who wants to continue his or her education, and one who shares Kaitlin’s mission.
At OHS, Kaitlin joined the Best Buddies Club, and took special-needs students to movies and for pizza. She also worked at Camp ANCHOR, which is geared toward those with special needs.
In addition, she joined the Key Club alongside her best friend, Tim Rubino, who also attended OHS. Rubino said he felt inspired watching Kaitlin juggle school responsibilities while volunteering for several organizations.
“I know in my heart that this is exactly what she would want,” he said of the scholarship he is helping establish. “She would have done so much more than this. We just hope to scratch the surface of what she wanted to do and keep her memory alive.”
Kaitlin graduated from Boston University with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a minor in special education. She wanted to become a lawyer to defend those in need, Rachel said, including individuals with mental and physical disabilities, transgender people and immigrants.
“Kaitlin was so involved ever since she was a kid in Oceanside and at college,” said her cousin Jessica Geraghty, who was also involved in creating the scholarship. “She was always about helping those less fortunate. It’s important to keep this going and remember that this is what she stood for.”
Kaitlin was 22 and studying at Washington College of Law at American University in Washington, D.C., when she died of complications from epilepsy.
The fundraiser is scheduled from 7 to 10 p.m. next Thursday, and will feature music by local funk-rock band Sons of Sanford and guest bartending by Stephen Dagger, a Baldwin native and Oceanside resident who is a friend of Rachel’s.
There will be a 50/50 raffle at $5 per chance, and a Chinese auction. Prizes include gift cards to local restaurants and themed baskets. Grand prizes include a TV and a wine tasting for four. Tickets to attend the gathering are $25 for unlimited soft drinks and the buffet, and $45 for open bar and buffet.
“This means so much to me,” Rachel said. “The Oceanside community gave so much to Kaitlin. I want to give back to students and let what she did inspire people to help others.”
Mike Smollins contributed to this story.