What’s Your Legacy?

Many people are concerned about leaving a legacy … evidence that their life really mattered, that they made a difference in the world and in the lives of those they love.  A legacy reflects who you are as a person and what your life was about.

I have been thinking a lot about this concept of legacy lately.  I heard it mentioned at an entrepreneurs conference back in the fall.  “What do you want your legacy to be?” I wasn’t quite sure … but a seed had been planted.

About a month ago, I visited my hometown of New Smyrna Beach, Fla., and had the opportunity to speak to a bunch of students at my former middle school.  I talked to them about following their dreams, having passion, going to college, and playing big in life.  That talk ignited a spark. I saw 12-year-old me in their eyes …I saw my late sister Julie (who died when she was a student at that school) in their faces, in their dreams, in their youth.

After returning home to New York City, that experience of connecting with these students stayed with me.  The fire was burning in my belly. What to do with it?  What to do with that energy?  Hmm … the answer always comes.  What would it be?

A few days ago the answer came: I want part of my legacy to be keeping my sister’s legacy alive.  I want to give young people the opportunity live their dreams, to step into their power, to own their magic.

I called my parents with my idea: Let’s create a scholarship in Julie’s honor. Let’s give it to a high school senior who has battled heath problems (my sister died from cancer) and exhibited great strength and courage.  Let’s call it the Julie Amon Dolphins of Strength Scholarship.

They loved the idea.  I think we all wondered why we hadn’t thought of this earlier (it’s been 16 years since Julie died).

I then shifted into creating a description of the scholarship, including a bit about the girl behind the gift.  I wrote this description in about an hour.  I thought the writing process would be intense and was a little afraid of it, but the words poured onto the page effortlessly and easily.  I was being guided. It was like she was there saying, “Go, big sister.  You’re on the right path.  This is it.”

Here’s what I wrote …

“Thank you for your interest in applying for the Julie Amon Dolphins of Strength Scholarship.  In addition to completing the standard scholarship application, a personal essay is also required.

A bit about Julie before the essay is explained …

Julie Ann Amon was an amazing daughter, sister, friend, and student.  She was full of life and laughter and absolutely LOVED school.  She also loved animals and had a strong relationship with God.

Julie was a 6th grader at New Smyrna Beach Middle School when she was diagnosed with cancer.  It was January 1993. Never one to shrink from a challenge, she underwent painful radiation and chemotherapy treatments at Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Fla.  Julie waged a courageous battle against the disease, fighting bravely for over a year.  Throughout it all, Julie never complained or wanted people to take pity on her.  She always kept her sense of humor.  She trusted that God had a plan for her.

Much to the heartbreak of everyone who knew her, Julie took her last breath on February 27, 1994.  She was 12 years old when she died and was a 7th grader in the gifted program at NSBMS.  Her strength and courage were – and are – an inspiration.

Now, 16 years after her death, we are stepping up to honor Julie’s legacy by giving a college scholarship to a deserving NSBHS student who has waged their own courageous battle with health issues.  We salute your strength and are rallying around you for good health and big success as you graduate to tackle the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

So, what’s the deal with dolphins?  Well, Julie LOVED dolphins.  She wore a special dolphin ring that served as her protector during her darkest days.  She must have been onto something because it’s a known fact that dolphins actually stay with injured or ill individuals, even helping them to breathe by bringing them to the surface if needed.  They have also been seen protecting swimmers from sharks by swimming circles around the people in danger.  Cool, right?

As you move into this next exciting chapter in your life, we invite you to apply for the inaugural Julie Amon Dolphins of Strength Scholarship by completing the essay questions below.

Good luck.  You are a superstar and are off to do great things!

Love,

Julie’s Family”

I share this with you to give you insight into a girl who was the strongest person I’ve ever known.  We can all learn something by the way she lived her life … by her legacy.  May it allow you to remember what really matters, that you matter, that we’re LUCKY to be here.

May you know that you can always choose to step up, step out and DO something.  You are here for a reason.

So … what kind of legacy do you want to leave, and how will you pursue it today?  Share below.  I will see you there!

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