It seemed fitting to meet the first two of many recipients of the Patrick K. Coughlin Scholarships at Pat's old stomping ground, Coughlin's Pub in Fredonia. RO founders Joe Russo and Maggie Owen, along with foundation board and scholarship committee members, were there to greet John Ludwig of Fredonia High School and Taylor Kickbush of Gowanda High School. Pat Coughlin's brothers, Billy, Joe, Jack, Tim, and Jim were also there to present the two $500 scholarships, making the reception that much more special.
These scholarship funds are a result of many volunteer hours and much hard work by the committee members of last October's Patrick K. Coughlin/Missing Links Community Connection Walk held in Fredonia. What started out as a joining of hands to form a human chain to raise awareness of the RO Foundation became a walk with over 500 people memorializing Pat Coughlin and also Bob and Joan Link, Maggie Owen's parents.
Pat Coughlin was a businessman in Fredonia for years, where he and Joe Coughlin operated their pub. They also gave back to their community through youth and adult sports programs, especially hockey, baseball and softball. Many friends from all over the country have come into Coughlin's Pub to visit and catch up with the Coughlin family.
OBSERVER Photo by Matt Panebianco
From left: Treasurer Roberta Coniglio, board member Lisa Parla, brother Billy Coughlin, RO founder Joe Russo; Taylor Kickbush, PKC Scholarship represenative winner; John Ludwig, PKC Scholarship representative winner; RO founder Maggie Owen, brother Jack Coughlin, Fundraising Chairman Jilly Zappie, Secretary Kelly Brown, Jay Bishop, M.D., Christine Buchanan and brother James Patrick Coughlin.
Last July, before all of the plans for the human chain could be finalized, Pat Coughlin succumbed to Cholangiocarcinoma cancer. Due to his community involvement and the fact that he was an advocate for the RO Foundation, it only seemed fitting that his life should be honored with a walk that would help others. In return for the community's participation, the foundation and Coughlin's friends and family wanted to give youth a helping hand in their pursuit of further education in the form of two scholarships.
The RO Foundation scholarship committee members chose Ludwig and Kickbush to be the first recipients of this special scholarship.
John Ludwig is the son of John and Lori Ludwig of Fredonia. He is pursuing his college education at SUNY Maritime College. Ludwig ranked 12th in his graduating class of 116 with a GPA of 92.4. Ludwig grew up spending time with and attending hockey games with his grandfather. The two were very close, until Ludwig's grandfather was taken by cancer. Ludwig still loves hockey, and was chosen as alternate captain of his hockey team senior year. Ludwig plans on trying out for the hockey team at SUNY Maritime.
Taylor Kickbush is the daughter of Todd and Susan Kickbush of Gowanda. She is pursuing her college education at Jamestown Community College and then St. Bonaventure University. Kickbush ranked sixth in her graduating class of 87 students with a 96.69 GPA. Like Pat Coughlin, Kickbush gives back to her community through community service. She has played many sports, focusing mostly on running track, for which she was captain. Even with her demanding schedule, she maintained high grades. Kickbush says, "This scholarship has opened my eyes to how happiness is brought to those who give away genuine hope to others."
The next Patrick K. Coughlin/Missing Links Community Connection Walk/Run is being planned for Sept. 28 in Fredonia. Save the date; more information will be announced soon.
The RO Foundation was started in March 2011 by Joseph C. Russo Jr. and Margaret R. Owen, with the mission of assisting patients and families with transportation needs to treatment centers for long-term illnesses. The RO Foundation understands that in addition to the mental and emotional tolls of illness, there are also financial burdens like gasoline, food and lodging that families aren't always prepared for. To date, the RO Foundation has helped over 100 patients with grants totaling more than $35,000 to help with these expenses.
The RO Foundation is a fund of the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation. For more information or to make a donation, go to www.rofoundation.com, or call 366-4892.