Eleven months after 2009 Brookfield Central grad Holly Christina Stahl died in a car crash, WTMJ-TV host Vince Vitrano on Monday interviewed her mother Kari Stahl and aunt Kim Tomich about the Holly Stahl Foundation's accomplishments.
The foundation encourages people to live Holly's mantra of "Love Life!" and raises money for scholarships through the Elmbrook Education Foundation and the University of Minnesota's College of Design through sale of "Love Life!" wristbands.
The first Holly Christina Stahl Memorial scholarship recipients selected were Kristina Rohloff (Elmbrook) and Tawana Terrell (University of Minnesota).
For more information, see Vince Vitrano's report and this Brookfield Patch story originally published May 9, 2011:
By Judith Berger
There are many questions you ask yourself when you lose a loved one so precious with a bounty of unrealized potential.
“As a family, we wondered how do we keep Holly’s memory alive?” Kari Stahl said of her daughter, Holly Christina Stahl. Holly was an interior design student at the University of Minnesota, on break for the holidays, when she died in a car accident en route home just before Christmas.
By all accounts, Holly was special — full of life, great student, loved by friends and family, involved in service to the community and working toward a future full of promise.
In life, Holly touched many lives. Now, five months after her death, her family —parents John and Kari and siblings Nicole, J.C. and Sean — has established the Holly Christina Stahl Foundation and Scholarship ensuring that Holly will continue to impact lives in a positive way.
On May 25, the Elmbrook Education Foundation will name the first student recipient of the Holly Christina Stahl Scholarship in the amount of $1,500 at Brookfield Central High School.
“We will be awarding it at Senior Honors Night,” said Laura Schmidt, executive director of EEF.
Holly was a 2009 Honors graduate of Brookfield Central High School. She also attended Wisconsin Hills Middle and Swanson Elementary schools at Elmbrook. The criteria for Holly's scholarship: a student who has overcome adversity to achieve goals, was determined by the Stahls.
“Holly had a learning disability in reading, so she always worked really hard,” Stahl said, noting that telling Holly she couldn’t do something made her all the more determined to do it.
The scholarship is for continuing education at a four-year university or technical school. The Stahls were not involved in selecting the scholarship student, Schmidt said.
“We worked with teachers and the guidance staff," she said. "They helped us find kids who might not typically apply for a scholarship.”
Schmidt said they were looking for students who fit the criteria and, like Holly, loved life and valued service to others. The Holly Christina Stahl Foundation continues to build funds to benefit a variety of charities.
“We’re planning a scholarship for the University of Minnesota and looking into some local and national charities.” Stahl said.
Holly was involved in youth groups and church service, so the foundation’s focus will be inspired by Holly’s interests.
“Love Life!” her signature phrase for saying good bye to family and friends inspired a fund-raising idea. Colorful "Love Life!" wristbands bearing Holly’s initials are available for sale through the website www.hcslovelife.org. All proceeds will go to the foundation.
Holly was a big Milwaukee Brewers fan, Stahl said. So it’s only fitting that friends and family hold a fundraiser on June 25 that includes a Brewers game and tailgate party in Holly’s memory to benefit the foundation.
“We’ve reached our limit for tickets,” Stahl said. “But we welcome people to the tailgate party.”
If you are interested in participating in the tailgate portion of the fundraiser, please contact Kari Stahl at email@example.com.
There are no answers to the bigger questions parents have when they’ve lost a child; and Stahl admits to having good days and bad days — good hours and bad hours. But through the Holly Christina Stahl Foundation, her family has found a way to celebrate her life, her light and her legacy.
“She had a light that shone from within,” Stahl said.
And through the love and efforts of the Stahl family, her light will continue to shine.
Donations to the Holly Christina Stahl Scholarship Fund can be sent to the Elmbrook Education Foundation at P.O. Box 206, Brookfield, WI 53008.