Mother turns tragedy into opportunity |

Mother turns tragedy into opportunity

Teri Vance

Lorraine Leahy lived every parent’s nightmare — twice.

Her daughter, Erin, died in 1998 of juvenile diabetes. Two years later, her son, Patrick, died from complications after a massive asthma attack.

Now Leahy is working, with help from friends and family, to turn her tragedy into an opportunity to help other parents realize their dreams for their children.

“It’s a memorial to my kids which will make me feel as though they are still around,” she said. “I couldn’t have thought of a neater thing.”

Following encouragement from friends, the Leahys are establishing a University of Nevada, Reno scholarship in honor of Patrick and Erin.

“It’s very exciting to know that people thought enough of your children to do this,” Leahy said. “It’s a very warm feeling for a mother.”

A golf tournament, followed by a dinner at Mo & Sluggo’s, is scheduled for Sept. 29 to help raise money for the $10,000 endowment. Interest raised on the endowment will be awarded as an annual scholarship.

Leahy said it is fitting to name it for her children, who both attended UNR and valued education.

“It’s their contribution even after death to help others afford to go to school,” she said.

Erin, who died at 26, attended the university until she was too weak to make it to her classes. Patrick was about two semesters away from graduating.

Shortly after his death, friends began the fund. Leahy said she was too much of a “basket case” to help at first but is now ready to organize fund-raising efforts, along with son Mike Leahy and ex-husband Don Leahy.

Leahy, her brother, her uncle and her father are UNR graduates.


To donate to the scholarship fund, send donations to 1644 Molly Drive, Carson City, NV 89706. Make checks payable to Patrick and Erin Leahy Scholarship fund.


What: Golf fund-raiser

When: 8 a.m. Sept. 29

Where: Silver Oak Golf Course

Price: $90 per person, $320 for group of four

Deadline: Sept. 13

Contact: Kelly Nichols, 250-0205