Last year, all Leah Rondon wanted for her 6th birthday was dinner with her parents and brothers, and Peachwave for dessert.
This year is different. Leah was killed in August, just a few days before starting 1st grade. Her death devastated her hometown of Ansonia — and Bedford Middle School, where her mother Colleen is a much-loved science teacher.
Leah’s birthday is soon. To honor her memory — and give something back to others — her family will celebrate with a carnival for elementary school children.
It will be held next Saturday (February 6), from 12-3 p.m. The site is Kolbe Cathedral — the Bridgeport High School where Leah’s dad, Henry, is principal.
The carnival includes games, food, raffles and entertainment. Kids everywhere (and their parents) are invited. Admission is free — but money spent on tickets for individual events will go to a scholarship fund, for a senior girl at Kolbe hoping to attend college.
Colleen says: “We hope this will be a great time for kids and their families, during an otherwise dreary and cold time of year. We are ready to memorialize our daughter in a happy and positive way.”
The Rondons’ world was rocked when Leah — riding in a wagon at a friend’s house — was struck by a car. They knew that joyous occasions like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Leah’s birthday would be tough.
“Leah was always having fun,” Colleen says. “We have so many memories of her enjoying the regular routine of a child’s life: going to school, playing in the yard, attending camp, competing in soccer, basketball and softball.”
In just 6 1/2 years of life, Colleen says, Leah made her mark. “She was fun-loving and joyful. She made other people laugh and be happy too.
“Having a carnival to provide some fun for other kids continues to bring those joyful memories to us. Raising money to help high school students continue their education is a bonus.”
Most students at Kolbe Cathedral need help for college.
Colleen hopes that the girl who receives scholarship help from the carnival will be like Leah: someone who loves school, is involved in it, and is genuinely kind to others.
And like Leah, she will be a winner.
(If you can’t be at the carnival on Saturday but would like to help, there is a “Donate” button on the upper left side of the Kolbe main home page: http://www.kolbecaths.org. Hat tip: Julia McNamee)