Scholarship Fund Rewards Student Compassion And Keeps One Incredible Girl's Memory Alive

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France-Anne Sweeny "Making a Difference" Fund

As a teen, France-Anne Sweeny was determined to make the world a better, more compassionate place. The Cameron Heights Collegiate Institute student spoke out against bullying, helped give suicide prevention workshops, and offered counselling at horse camps. She took soccer, karate, Irish dancing and flute lessons. France-Anne was one to watch. 

But when the 15-year-old's life was cut short in 2009 as the result of a tragic horseback riding accident, her family knew they had to do something to honour her. Organ donation helped save the lives of at least seven people, but Paul Sweeny, her father, says they wanted to do even more. 

"In the hospital, we decided we needed to do something to keep her legacy and her dream alive. We couldn't let it go," he explains now. 

Within a few months, Sweeny, along with his wife Marie-Josée, sat down for a meeting at The KWCF and discussed creating an endowment fund - the France-Anne Sweeny "Making a Difference" Fund - that would provide post-secondary education scholarships to area students. The financial goal: $300,000. Paul says he remembers when that number seemed daunting. 

"I honestly thought it was going to take the rest of my life to put that money together. But here we are eight years into it and there's about $475,000 now," he says. "And it's still growing."

The majority of the funds are raised through an annual charity gold tournament. And while a small committee of family, friends and colleagues organize it, Sweeny says The KWCF's support has been crucial for the award's success. 

"The KWCF is a great outfit. Their returns have been good, the fund is growing and they're great people to work with," he says, mentioning that The KWCF does everything from handling administrative details to issuing receipts to golfers and disseminating the scholarship money. "It's arm's length for me. They take care of everything."

So far the fund has given 110 $100 awards to Grade 11 secondary students, and 48 $1,000 scholarships to graduates pursuing post-secondary education, known for their drive and compassion. The Sweeny family sits down each year and personally reads through the applications by students who have been handpicked by their high schools. 

"It's wonderful to be able to give an award in France-Anne's name and watch these young people grow and become whatever they want to become."