West Hartford resident Brigid Curtin died tragically on Dec. 17, 2018.
By Ronni Newton
West Hartford resident Brigid Curtin, then a smart and spirited seventh-grader at Sedgwick Middle School, died tragically on Dec. 17, 2018, and exactly a year later hundreds of luminaries shone to honor her memory.
“I was thinking of what we could do,” said Kim Grose, who wanted to find an appropriate way to mark the anniversary of the tragic incident. Grose said her daughter was friends with Brigid at Sedgwick.
Grose recalled that after a tragedy a number of years ago involving a then-Duffy Elementary School student who died while on a rafting trip, the community organized a “light up the night” event. She thought it was a wonderful tribute and said she reached out to Tim Curtin, Brigid’s dad, to ask him if it would be okay to hold a similar celebration for Brigid.
Curtin and his wife, Jane Murphy, who sustained severely injuries in the tragedy that took her daughter’s life last year, enthusiastically supported the idea, Grose said.
She found a marketing company that assisted in the creation of 1,000 bags with a bright blue “B” on them. Blue was Brigid’s favorite color.
“We got a bunch of moms together,” said Grose, parents whose children were classmates of Brigid, and last week they formed an assembly line to put together 1,000 luminary kits with the bags, sand, and candles that could burn brightly for six hours.
Many of the luminary kits were handed out Monday night to parents arriving for concerts at Sedgwick, but because schools ended up being closed Tuesday due to ice, organizers weren’t able to hand out all of them. Grose said the extras would be used next year.
There will be lights burning along Boulevard, Pelham Road, Woodrow, Lemay, and especially on Stoner Drive, where Brigid lived, Grose said. If the weather cleared enough, she and others planned to light some at Westmoor Park, which was Brigid’s special place and home away from home.
“We paid for it all on our own,” said Grose, but she asked anyone who offered reimbursement for the luminaries to instead make a donation to Westmoor Park in Brigid’s memory.
Curtin and Murphy hadn’t spoken publicly about Brigid’s death until a few weeks ago, when they launched the “Friends of Brigid Curtin at Westmoor Park” fundraising campaign, and are very thankful for the strong support the fundraiser has received and that they have received over the past year.
“The outpouring of the community has just been unbelievable – the support from people known to us, from people unknown to us, the school system, friends, family, neighbors, sports teams in town that the kids played for, it’s just been overwhelming,” Curtin told We-Ha.com in a previous interview.
“It started Dec. 18, , people reaching out to see how they could support us. I think people felt sympathetic, and were finding ways to cope with it themselves,” Curtin said.
As of Tuesday, the GoFundMe campaign has raised more than $41,000 for an outdoor classroom at Westmoor Park to be built in Brigid’s memory. Organizers said that in combination with other monies raised, there is now about $110,000 raised to fund the estimated $250,000 cost of the structure and associated landscaping.
The outdoor classroom, which will provide shelter from rain and the hot summer sun, and be a gathering place for children who arrive at the park for programs, is a great intersection of supporting the park Brigid loved so much, and benefitting the broader community – the best way Curtin and Murphy felt they could honor their daughter.
“We’re very keen on having a project be understated and in keeping with the park itself, because that was Brigid. She was a very unassuming little girl and she loved that place,” Murphy said in a previous interview with We-Ha.com. “It was her second home in the summer. She wanted to go there all the time year round and visit the animals.”
Dec. 17, 2019, will mark a year since Brigid has been gone, but that night lights shone brightly in her honor. And next summer her spirit will also live on at the new Westmoor Park outdoor classroom.
Donations to the “Friends of Brigid Curtin at Westmoor Park” GoFundMe campaign can be made through this link: https://www.gofundme.com/f/brigidcurtinwestmoorpark. Those wishing to support the project can also make a tax-deductible donation in Brigid Curtin’s name through Westmoor Park’s website, http://westmoorpark.com or through Leisure Services’ Rec Desk (https://westhartford.recdesk.com/Community/Home). A Facebook page has also been set up for the campaign.
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