Originally published in The Kincardine Record. Read the original HERE.
To the Editor:
Could a one-year-old boy change the world - even if he never grew up? With the support of the Grey-Bruce community, I believe he can.
My name is Jacqui Hillerby. I would like to tell you about how my son’s short life could make a long-term difference, and ask for your help in supporting the Jacob Hillerby Memorial Bursary.
Jake and his twin sister, Robin, were born June 22, 2016. Jake was interested in figuring out the world. He had a focused determination to test and re-test switches, gears, and knobs. Family and friends said he was destined to be an engineer, like his father, grandfather, and ancestors extending back five generations. He would be able to use his engineering skills to make the world better - design medical devices, or maybe produce green energy.
Then Jake died of meningitis, a day before his first birthday. We grieved for everything we would miss out on from Jake’s life. But we were not the only ones who would miss out. The whole community would miss out on what he could have contributed.
But what if Jake could have a legacy, helping other potential engineers change the world? We learned that the biggest barrier for bright young people becoming engineers, is money. A single year’s tuition costs $14,000, not even including books and living expenses. When students are stressed about money, they can’t concentrate. Their grades drop. They lose out on their education, and the world misses out on the things they could contribute.
So, we worked with Renison College at the University of Waterloo to create the Jacob Hillerby Memorial Bursary, a registered charity. Each year, engineering students who have financial need can apply by explaining how they will use their degree to make the world a better place.
Friends and family donated enough to allow us to give out the bursary for the first time this year. We selected Aleksi Luoma (right), a chemical engineering student. His goal is to bring clean water to neglected First Nations communities. He has already been part of a national committee to raise funds and awareness.
We have corresponded with this incredible young man and we are making plans to meet with him and encourage him to do good works in Jake’s honour. We will help mentor him, if needed. This we will do for each future award winner.
We would love your support. One way you could help, is to join us at a fund-raiser, June 8, at Bar Down (former Gilley's Feed Lot) in downtown Kincardine, to celebrate what would have been Jake’s third birthday. There will be dancing, appetizers, games, and a silent auction.
Tickets are $10 each, and 100 per cent goes to the charity. Tickets can be purchased through Jacqui Hillerby or LouAnne Dudman.
The second way you can help, is to donate directly to the award at this link: uwaterloo.ca/renison/jhillerbybursary
Through this bursary, I think Jake can change the world – with your help.
Jacqui and Richard Hillerby and family