"When we long for a life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow
in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure..."
- Peter Marshall
My name is Alara Bedka. My father Richard and I decided to grieve the tragic death of my sister in a way that would honor who she was as a human being and who she could have been in this world... We set out on a journey to help young adults like Ariana to stay focused on the positive outlets in life and achieve their potential.
With the help of our close family friends, we started a scholarship in her name. From there the memorial fund has evolved, and we hope that it will continue to grow, as we do what we can to keep Ariana's memory alive...
Our History... Turning Tragedy into an Opportunity to Pay It Forward
In the wake of Ariana's tragic death, our close family friends Susan Olson and Alessia Santoro (mother and daughter) came to us with the idea of doing a memorial scholarship in her name. We were able to do that through the Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley, a charitable organization that helps grieving families collect donations and use them for things like grants and scholarships. Although we were extremely grateful for how easy they made it to give the scholarship away, we wanted to have a deeper involvement in the process.
At that point, Susan and Alessia had started a local dance studio in Poughkeepsie, NY the New York Academy of Ballet. They also established a non-profit group in 2012, called the Mid-Hudson Performing Arts Group (MPHAG), with the hope of further spreading their love of dance and the arts with the local community. We came together and made the decision to offer the scholarship on our own through MHPAG. The Ariana Bedka Memorial Fund was created as a project of the MHPAG in her honor. We got to work planning and organizing to raise funds for the Ariana Bedka Memorial Scholarship.
The summer of 2015 was an exciting time for the Ariana Bedka Memorial Fund. We had our first official fundraising event: Ariana's Birthday Celebration at Union Tavern in Poughkeepsie. It was our way of honoring the one year anniversary of her accident, on what would have been her 25th birthday. Friends and family came out to celebrate in her honor, and the proceeds went toward the scholarship. We had custom t-shirts available for all the attendees. The night was a great success, and we plan do more events like that in the future.
Since then, we have mainly been focused on giving out our annual scholarship at John Jay High School in Hopewell Junction, NY. We chose John Jay, because it is the school that both my sister and I graduated from. Although we have plans to do more, it has proved difficult to manage our every day lives, full-time jobs, the memorial fund, and our other volunteer work. We hope to get the ball rolling soon on hosting more fundraising events and exploring new avenues to outreach in the community. Stay tuned!
We are excited to see what the future will hold... Please contact us for more information about our cause, or if you have an organization in the community that you think we should connect with!