Hailey Brouillet, a 20-year-old Oakland University junior majoring in health sciences, was undaunted by challenges.
She was one of the first students to take advantage of the study abroad program offered at Oakland University and spent part of last summer studying health care systems in Amsterdam and London.
After watching the Academy of Country Music Awards on TV with her family last year, she told her mother that she would attend the awards show this year.
“I said, ‘Who does that?’ And she said, ‘Why not?’” said Hailey’s mother, Lori Brouillet. She described Hailey as unique, beautiful and spiritual — a young woman who wrote in her journal every day and was best friends with her younger sister, Morgan, 18.
Hailey secured the tickets to the awards, but they went unused. She died from injuries she sustained in a multi-car accident on Rochester Road, near Hamlin, Oct. 23, leaving her family and friends to grapple with the loss.
Her father, Wayne Brouillet, said police believe the responsible driver suffered a medical emergency at the wheel.
The family decided to allow Hailey to be an organ donor for the Gift of Life Michigan Organ and Tissue Donation program, and all of her organs were harvested.
While planning her funeral, Hailey’s cousin suggested that donations in Hailey’s honor be made to Oakland University for the study abroad program.
Hailey’s boyfriend, Dominic Gaudino, recalled Hailey’s strong belief that students should take the opportunity to participate in the study abroad program and not think about how costly it might be. He said that Hailey’s words were, “just go for it. It was the best experience of my life and I would not take it back for anything. Why not?”
“She always put someone else first,” he said.
Lori said that Hailey would bring extra mittens to outdoor winter sporting events in case someone else would need them.
Morgan said that although each sister had her own bedroom, they often slept together.
“It (studying abroad) changed her life,” Morgan said. “She became a volunteer for the CIEE (Council on International Educational Exchange) program.”
Hailey’s family and friends decided to broaden the donation program for the study abroad program and named the initiative Share Her Spirit because “she’s not here and we want to not have people forget about her,” Morgan said.
To that end, the Brouillet family and friends have spearheaded an effort to establish a $25,000 endowment to fund a scholarship for the CIEE Study Abroad program at Oakland University.
“She always had a vision of what she wanted to do,” said Wayne. “As a family, we never travelled abroad. She worked it out by herself and went on her own. ‘Why not?’ was her favorite expression.”
Her college roommate, Jessica Zacharias, who had been friends with Hailey since they were 5 years old, said that the two often made 3 a.m. runs to Walmart or Meijer together.
“This whole movement, that’s what’s guiding me,” said Zacharias. “The support we’ve received has been overwhelming. My tears turned to joyful tears. … The pain will never go away.”
Moving past their loss
“This is our new normal,” Gaudino said. “Either it breaks you down or builds you up. ‘Share Her Spirit’ is building it up.”
Raising $25,000 will allow the fund to be an endowment.
Wayne explained that an endowment “going forward, would last forever.” Scholarship amounts will be determined at a later date. “This helps us focus not on the loss but moving past this,” he said.
“We have our days,” Lori said of the grief process.
“As a father, it’s hard to see everyone in pain and I can’t fix it,” Wayne said. “I can’t fix it for myself.”
He said the outpouring of support from the Troy community has been overwhelming. Over 500 people attended a candlelight vigil for Hailey on the football field at Troy High School while Hailey fought for her life Oct. 25.
Lori added that the pastor and community at St. Anastasia Roman Catholic Church have also been supportive. Interim Oakland University President Betty Youngblood attended Hailey’s funeral.
So far, $3,800 was raised through the Share Her Spirit 5k run at Michigan State University in April that Gaudino spearheaded. There was a fundraiser at Granite City Food and Brewery June 18, where a portion of the proceeds benefited the scholarship fund.
The 2014 Hailey Brouillet Study Abroad Scholarship Fund Golf Outing will be held at Devil’s Ridge Golf Club in Oxford July 28. Registration for the event starts at 7:30 a.m. The cost is $110 per person or $400 for a foursome. There is a $35 cost for dinner following the outing, and $150 hole sponsorships are available. The event will include a silent auction.
A Share Her Spirit Run/Walk 5k event will be held at Boulan Park, on Northfield Parkway, south of Wattles, at 1 p.m. Aug. 10. Registration begins at 11 a.m. The event is free, and all donations will go toward the Hailey Brouillet Study Abroad Scholarship Fund. Food and drinks will be provided for participants, there will be a deejay, and sponsorships are available. Donations of coupons and/or special offers, bottles of water, food, and balloons for the finish line are being accepted.
For information or to donate, visit firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations may also be made directly to Oakland University to the Gift Accounting Office, attn: Hailey Brouillet, For the International Education Study Abroad Scholarship Fund, at John Dodge House, Oakland University, 2200 N. Squirrel Road, Rochester, 48309-4402.
Information is also available at www.facebook.com/shareherspirit.
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