Aaren O'Connor Memorial Fund

$41,741 of $50k goal

Raised by 583 people in 13 months
Willie Wilkov
on behalf of Sarah Shirley
 DEERFIELD, IL
On Friday February 5, 2016 our friend and colleague was an innocent victim of the rising gun violence in Chicago. Aaren was a beautiful 25 year-old woman who was intelligent, compassionate, caring, and hardworking with a deep love for her friends and family. She had a great sense of humor, love for adventure and a take charge personality.  By simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time the world lost an amazing person and all of her potential.

We want to make sure that something positive can come from this senseless tragedy.  While trying to solve the gun violence epidemic in Chicago seems like an impossible task, we need to start somewhere.  We believe we can teach people to see the world from the perspective of others. We hope we can teach people that violence isn't the answer and provide them with resources to pursue a different path. We think we can teach people how to come together and become a stronger, more unified community.

It is in this spirit that we announce the Aaren O'Connor Memorial Fund. Initially, donations collected will help her family offset funeral and memorial service expenses.  Over time, donations will fund a scholarship program in Aaren’s memory that will serve to bring hope and healing to the youth of Chicago.  One initial idea is to fund support for at-risk Chicago youth who want to advance their education by participating in a study abroad program (Aaren loved to travel and met her boyfriend Carlos during her time abroad).  Our long-term goal is to develop an after school program at a community center in Aaren’s name where Chicago’s youth can come together to receive the caring and resources they need to choose a non-violent path and open their hearts to others.  Other suggestions to provide healing to our community in Aaren’s memory are welcome and encouraged.  May she rest in peace.

Due to the overwhelming support we have received over the past day, we have decided to double our goal to $50,000.  Thanks to all who have contributed.
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Update 2
Posted by Willie Wilkov
1 month ago
   Share
Yesterday marked 1 year since the tragic shooting of our dear friend Aaren O’Connor. At the time of Aaren’s death, with your help, we were able to raise over $40k on GoFundMe. With that money we were able to help Aaren’s family with the costs associated with her funeral. In addition, we partnered with Temple University to establish the Aaren O’Connor Memorial Scholarship. As many of you may know Aaren loved to travel and took part in a study abroad program through Temple University where she spent a semester in Japan. It was there that she met the love of her life, Carlos. The Aaren O’Connor Memorial Scholarship offers tuition assistance to students looking to study abroad through the same program as Aaren and Carlos. Our hope is to award the scholarship on an annual basis targeting students with ties to the Chicago area so they too may share in Aaren’s passion and see the world from a different perspective.

We now need to raise an additional $20k to fully endow this scholarship fund so it may continue to be available for future students for years to come. By partnering with Temple University we are able to ensure 100% of your donation goes to the scholarship fund (GoFundMe charged handling fees) and it is now 100% tax deductible. Please use this link to make your donation to the Aaren O’Connor Memorial Scholarship Fund: http://giving.temple.edu/oconnor-scholarship.

For information on the scholarship or to submit an application please contact Temple University. We are currently working to get a direct link to the scholarship information online and will update that once provided.
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Update 1
Posted by Willie Wilkov
8 months ago
   Share
1
1
Dear Friends and Family of Aaren O'Connor,

It's been five months since Aaren was taken from us much too soon and we wanted to provide you with an update on the Aaren O'Connor Memorial Fund. First of all, thank you so much for your support. After Gofundme fees and helping Aaren's family offset funeral and memorial service expenses, we have disbursed over $30,000 towards the Aaren O’Connor Memorial Scholarship Fund at Temple University. Aaren was an alumna of Temple University Japan who cherished her study abroad experience and the purpose of this fund is to provide scholarships for students participating in any university study abroad program with preference for students who are residents of Chicago. We're pleased to announce that one scholarship award in the amount of $1,000 will be given away each year beginning this year. Our goal is to raise another $20,000 in Aaren's memory. In doing so, it will become the Aaren O’Connor Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund and will be awarded in perpetuity, keeping Aaren's memory alive forever. Additional tax-deductible donations can be made anytime at giving.temple.edu/oconnor-scholarship. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to us. Thanks so much for your support and for helping us honor Aaren's memory.

Sincerely,
Sarah Moen and Willie Wilkov
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Read a Previous Update
David O'Connor
13 months ago

I just want to say THANK YOU! to all of you who are taking part in this amazing effort. I am so impressed by your kindness. This is truly a tribute to the kind of person she was and the kind of friends she had. I am so glad and honored that you all were such a big part of her life and I know you were responsible for making her life a joyful one. Thank you again for all of your support!

+ Read More
David O'Connor
13 months ago
4
4

Every time I visit this page I am amazed at all of the kindness all of you have shown. Thank you for kind words and expressions of sympathy. I know that for those of you who did not know Aaren you would have been proud to have called her your friend. We will only use what we need for her funeral and burial. I want to make sure there is plenty of funds left for the scholarship and after school program. The future is what is most important.

+ Read More
Zandra Hayes
13 months ago
3
3

My prayers for peace and healing to Aaren's family and friends. My sister, Marian was side-swipped by a vehicle driven by a person with a suspended license on January 8, and died two days later. I understand the pain of the sudden departure of one so beautiful. Please know that Aaren is still with you in spirit and the responsible person will eventually be held accountable. Embrace the memories that Aaren gave. God's blessings!

+ Read More
Kymberly Epperson
13 months ago
3
3

Aaren is one of my sisters best friends from Elementary school in San Diego. This is so tragic and horrible that this happened to someone who did not deserve it who was simply at the wrong place during the wrong time. Prayers and thoughts to the O'Connor family and loved ones. It is amazing that they have already raised over 21k in just one day. RIP Aaren. We love you.

+ Read More
Jon Pavlovich
13 months ago
3
3

9 hours and nearly eleven thousand dollars...this is simply amazing.

+ Read More
Don Salyards
13 months ago
2
2

Sunday at the 5pm Mass as I knelt in the pew of Old St. Patrick's Church in Chicago and could do nothing but pray and pray for Aaren's soul and for all of her family and friends. I wish I had known her but I'll have to wait for a while. Aaren you were a beautiful soul and now you are in God's hands. David I'm shedding tears for you now as I write these words. You've lost your Angel, but God has another one in heaven. May God give you peace.

+ Read More
Christine Bicek
13 months ago
2
2

I am so very sorry for your loss. I too have a 25 year old daughter and cannot imagine the sorrow you must be feeling. Prayers will be said and candles will be lit in honor of Aaren. ♥

+ Read More
Faidra Page
13 months ago
2
2

So sorry for her family and friends prayers for peace

+ Read More
Yasushi Koyama
13 months ago
2
2

I am so sad

+ Read More
Mark Alex
13 months ago
1
1

R.I.P. Senseless and sad. My prayers are with the family. Hope they catch the person or persons responsible for this.

+ Read More
Wendy Kerr
13 months ago
1
1

I am deeply saddened to learn of the tragic loss of Aaren. I was her roommate in La Grange, IL when she first moved to the Chicago-land area. What a lovely, beautiful, capable, smart, caring, sharing, amazing woman. To her family, Carlos and all of her friends and lives she touched. You have my deepest sympathy. Gone too soon.

+ Read More
Barbara Hoge
13 months ago
1
1

I heard about your daughter's, friend's and coworkers senseless death. I'm a mom of two amazing girls about her age. I hope you remember she continues to touch people -- as you do. This is my reminder--a total stranger.

+ Read More
Jeff Bolin
13 months ago
1
1

Dave and family. We send you our sincerest condolences. I never got to meet Aaren but being that she was your daughter I know she was a good person. If you need ANYTHING, don't hesitate to call me. God bless you and your family. Jeff and Angela Bolin

+ Read More
Deanna Kraus
13 months ago
1
1

I'm so sorry for your loss such a beautiful young girl gone to soon.

+ Read More
David O'Connor
13 months ago

Time moves forward, at a crawl, ever so slowly, painfully I remember my daughter. So kind. so beautiful, so giving, so caring, so everything else. The pain is real and never leaves me. It is only tempered by all of your caring thought, words and prayers. I know she is smiling upon all of you now. What you do here brings tears to my eyes. Tears of joy and love to replace the tears of sadness that I have. Thank you all so much for your gift. I know my daughter is happy and in a better place. May she rest in peace in Gods arms and be forever protected by him.

+ Read More

$41,741 of $50k goal

Raised by 583 people in 13 months
Created February 8, 2016
Willie Wilkov  
on behalf of Sarah Shirley
$50
Rebecca Nuger
1 month ago
1
1
ML
$50
Mike Lichodziejewski
1 month ago
1
1
CE
$50
Chuck Eiter
8 months ago
1
1

Aaren meant so much to so many people.

$80
Mike Lichodziejewski
8 months ago
1
1
DO
$100
David Oros
10 months ago
1
1
EB
$40
Erica Beam
10 months ago
1
1

Such a senseless tragedy. This donation on behalf of "Innocence Lost" Windchimes, designed and sold, profits to be donated to a family affected by senseless gun violence, by Beam Studio Windchimes.

SI
$615
Shraddha Imbrogno
11 months ago
1
1

On Behalf of EN Engineering

$15
David Thomas
12 months ago
1
1
$200
Anonymous
12 months ago
1
1
$50
Anonymous
12 months ago
1
1
David O'Connor
13 months ago

I just want to say THANK YOU! to all of you who are taking part in this amazing effort. I am so impressed by your kindness. This is truly a tribute to the kind of person she was and the kind of friends she had. I am so glad and honored that you all were such a big part of her life and I know you were responsible for making her life a joyful one. Thank you again for all of your support!

+ Read More
David O'Connor
13 months ago
4
4

Every time I visit this page I am amazed at all of the kindness all of you have shown. Thank you for kind words and expressions of sympathy. I know that for those of you who did not know Aaren you would have been proud to have called her your friend. We will only use what we need for her funeral and burial. I want to make sure there is plenty of funds left for the scholarship and after school program. The future is what is most important.

+ Read More
Zandra Hayes
13 months ago
3
3

My prayers for peace and healing to Aaren's family and friends. My sister, Marian was side-swipped by a vehicle driven by a person with a suspended license on January 8, and died two days later. I understand the pain of the sudden departure of one so beautiful. Please know that Aaren is still with you in spirit and the responsible person will eventually be held accountable. Embrace the memories that Aaren gave. God's blessings!

+ Read More
Kymberly Epperson
13 months ago
3
3

Aaren is one of my sisters best friends from Elementary school in San Diego. This is so tragic and horrible that this happened to someone who did not deserve it who was simply at the wrong place during the wrong time. Prayers and thoughts to the O'Connor family and loved ones. It is amazing that they have already raised over 21k in just one day. RIP Aaren. We love you.

+ Read More
Jon Pavlovich
13 months ago
3
3

9 hours and nearly eleven thousand dollars...this is simply amazing.

+ Read More
Don Salyards
13 months ago
2
2

Sunday at the 5pm Mass as I knelt in the pew of Old St. Patrick's Church in Chicago and could do nothing but pray and pray for Aaren's soul and for all of her family and friends. I wish I had known her but I'll have to wait for a while. Aaren you were a beautiful soul and now you are in God's hands. David I'm shedding tears for you now as I write these words. You've lost your Angel, but God has another one in heaven. May God give you peace.

+ Read More
Christine Bicek
13 months ago
2
2

I am so very sorry for your loss. I too have a 25 year old daughter and cannot imagine the sorrow you must be feeling. Prayers will be said and candles will be lit in honor of Aaren. ♥

+ Read More
Faidra Page
13 months ago
2
2

So sorry for her family and friends prayers for peace

+ Read More
Yasushi Koyama
13 months ago
2
2

I am so sad

+ Read More
Mark Alex
13 months ago
1
1

R.I.P. Senseless and sad. My prayers are with the family. Hope they catch the person or persons responsible for this.

+ Read More
Wendy Kerr
13 months ago
1
1

I am deeply saddened to learn of the tragic loss of Aaren. I was her roommate in La Grange, IL when she first moved to the Chicago-land area. What a lovely, beautiful, capable, smart, caring, sharing, amazing woman. To her family, Carlos and all of her friends and lives she touched. You have my deepest sympathy. Gone too soon.

+ Read More
Barbara Hoge
13 months ago
1
1

I heard about your daughter's, friend's and coworkers senseless death. I'm a mom of two amazing girls about her age. I hope you remember she continues to touch people -- as you do. This is my reminder--a total stranger.

+ Read More
Jeff Bolin
13 months ago
1
1

Dave and family. We send you our sincerest condolences. I never got to meet Aaren but being that she was your daughter I know she was a good person. If you need ANYTHING, don't hesitate to call me. God bless you and your family. Jeff and Angela Bolin

+ Read More
Deanna Kraus
13 months ago
1
1

I'm so sorry for your loss such a beautiful young girl gone to soon.

+ Read More
David O'Connor
13 months ago

Time moves forward, at a crawl, ever so slowly, painfully I remember my daughter. So kind. so beautiful, so giving, so caring, so everything else. The pain is real and never leaves me. It is only tempered by all of your caring thought, words and prayers. I know she is smiling upon all of you now. What you do here brings tears to my eyes. Tears of joy and love to replace the tears of sadness that I have. Thank you all so much for your gift. I know my daughter is happy and in a better place. May she rest in peace in Gods arms and be forever protected by him.

+ Read More
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