ST. CHARLES – Sean and Lisa Daley planned for years to send their daughter, Anna, off to college in the coming months.
Daley died exactly one year ago, at age 17, from complications of acute myeloid leukemia. A popular student and member of the Saints’ girls golf team, Daley would have been graduating as a member of this year’s senior class at East.
The Daleys have mourned their daughter’s passing with all their heart and soul over the past year, but they also have spent considerable time pondering the best way to follow through on what Lisa Daley calls her daughter’s “living legacy.”
A key component of that is one week away, when Sean and Lisa Daley will personally distribute multiple awards in the first year of the Anna Daley Fighting Saints Memorial Scholarship program as part of Senior Honors Night at St. Charles East.
The Daleys originally thought they might be able to award one or two scholarships. But after almost a year’s worth of generous support from Anna’s family, friends and other admirers near and far, the original projections have proven overly conservative.
Sitting on the memorial bench dedicated to Anna on a sun-splashed Tuesday at Pottawatomie Golf Course, Lisa Daley said she and her husband have been overwhelmed by the thousands of dollars that have come in for the scholarship program.
“I will tell you that we’re real excited because Anna lived big, and she always lived big,” Lisa Daley said. “When she put herself into something, she did it big, just as with [fighting] leukemia, she gave it her all. So we intend next Wednesday night to do it big and to give it our all.”
A panel of teachers and administrators at St. Charles East helped select the winners based on qualities the family considers most reflective of who their daughter was – integrity, leadership, the will to overcome adversity and faith being among the chief characteristics.
As for selecting the name of the scholarship program, that part was easy, Lisa Daley said.
“The only thing that came to mind was Fighting Saint because, as I explained to the [East administration], Anna lived a Fighting Saint, and she died a Fighting Saint on May 8th last year,” Lisa Daley said.
The scholarship fundraising efforts included shirt sales and raffles this school year at Saints sporting events. East assistant principal Bob Abraham credited Mike Karson, a senior class sponsor and social studies teacher at East, with helping orchestrate the fundraising, in addition to inspired effort from the student body. The Daley family has pledged at least two scholarship winners will be awarded for each of the next 10 years.
“It has been really outstanding,” Abraham said. “It kind of choked me up to see the number of people that have donated and the amount of money that has come in, and then the number of scholarships we’re actually able to [award] this year in Anna’s name. It’s been really wonderful.”
Anna Daley likely would be bound for college somewhere in the South – where Sean and Lisa are from – this fall, Lisa Daley said. Lisa Daley is deeply grateful for the travel and enriching opportunities her daughter experienced in her 17 years, and considers helping expand opportunities for Anna’s classmates a constructive way to respond to Anna’s loss.
“Her life was so much more than cancer so, for us, while we’re supportive of the American Cancer Society, we’re supportive of the Leukemia Society and different things, our greatest joy is in the living of the future for these kids, of being able to provide enough scholarships for books to be able to really make a difference,” Lisa Daley said. “And particularly for ones whose adversity is financial need.”
The Daleys are also working toward launching a separate foundation in their daughter’s honor. They have remained plugged in to the East community through Anna’s countless friends, continuing to attend school events and keep up with the latest social doings.
Tributes to Anna seem to be everywhere, be it initials on sporting equipment, one of Anna’s old bandanas being displayed on a former teammate’s golf bag or even in the form of tattoos.
“Anna shows up in a lot of places,” Lisa Daley said.
She’ll show up as an uplifting force in her former classmates’ lives a week from tonight at East.
• Jay Schwab is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
ANNA DALEY FIGHTING SAINTS MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP
If interested in contributing to the Anna Daley Fighting Saints Memorial Scholarship (for this or future years), send contributions to St. Charles East High School, 1020 Dunham Road, St. Charles, IL, 60174, care of Dr. Bob Abraham, and designate the funds for the Anna Daley Fighting Saints Memorial Scholarship.
The first annual Anna Daley Fighting Saints Memorial Scholarship awards will be distributed next Wednesday as part of Senior Honors Night at St. Charles East.