HOLBROOK, Mass. — While there were a lot of scholarships handed out Wednesday night at the Holbrook Class of 2022 awards ceremony, there was one very special scholarship in honor of one of their former classmates who was supposed to be graduating high school with them.
“I should have my child graduate with everyone else, but no,” said Bernadette Jean Baptiste, who has been wiping away tears for the last five years, ever since she lost her son Daron to cancer.
He was just 13 years old and had been battling the disease since he was six.
The tears hit especially hard now that the rest of his class is graduating without him.
“I know everybody says a bright light, but he really was the sunshine of the room all the time and I’m so happy I got to know him,” said classmate Marissa Todd.
Todd and the rest of the class that knew Daron so well were in for a surprise on their senior awards night.
All 57 students got a scholarship of $1,000 just because they got to share a little bit of their lives with Daron.
“I was so overjoyed that we could have a part of what Daron left behind, and I’m so happy that we get to be the class to carry on everything that he left behind,” said Todd.
The staff at the Bluebird biotechnology company donated the money. An aspiring scientist, Daron made one visit a couple of years before he died and left a very lasting impression.
“He had a lab coat on, he fired our chief scientific officer, he became the chief scientific officer for a day,” said Bluebird CEO Andrew Obenshain. “He was just a joy to have around. His story stayed with Bluebird and has actually become part of our law and our motivation to develop therapies for cancer.”
“That’s what we want,” said Jean Baptiste. ”For his legacy to keep going and going, and each time you touch someone else’s life, that’s what we want.”
Jean Baptiste is getting her wish as her son Daron will be with all 57 of the graduating senior class in one way or another for the rest of their lives.
There was one stipulation with the scholarship: the students have to be a light and share random acts of kindness wherever they go in honor of Daron.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.
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