Augusta mother starts scholarship in memory of her daughter
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - After the passing of her daughter, one local mother is turning her pain into purpose by helping the next generation of students.
One mom is starting a scholarship in memory of her daughter at Augusta University.
We sat down to hear how this mother felt this was her calling to heal the pain funny, smart, musically talented, and a good listener are the words Leslie Lesoon uses to remember her daughter Natalie.
“She was very artistic, musical. And then she had a really good tennis arm, and she ran cross country, and like running would give her some stress relief,” her mom says.
Raising awareness for suicide was never in the cards for Lesoon until she lost her daughter in 2017.
She says, “I woke up one day with this message to start a nonprofit. And I’m like, I don’t even know what a nonprofit is, like, how the hell am I supposed to do this?”
Lesoon says Natalie’s classmates from Augusta Prep began pouring out from everywhere to help.
“There were a lot of kids that wanted to do something. So we had a separate younger people one. And we put together some ideas on what next steps need to be done. And I’m telling you people came out of the woodwork, I want to do your logo, I want to do your fundraising,” Lesoon says.
While they did have huge success with the nonprofit, Covid got in the way.
“We were invited by the middle schools, the high schools, Kiwanis clubs, youth groups, and church groups. So and once you know, all the restrictions happen, that’s when the folks that were still in Augusta couldn’t do it anymore. There wasn’t get we weren’t getting any traction anywhere,” Lesoon says.
But she knew her work wasn’t finished yet.
She says, “We kind of talked about the idea of dissolving it. I said, oh, okay. Well, I mean, this sounds like a fine idea to me. I mean, we can’t do anything right now. They said, well, we don’t know what to do with the money. And I was like, how much is there? And you wouldn’t believe how close it was to the amount of money I started the scholarship.”
And now the Natalie Lauren Wood scholarship endowment is available at the university she would have attended.
“The recipient must be enrolled in the Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Augusta University, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts and Music preference will be given to students who play piano, guitar, violin, or sing. Preference will also be given to students with an interested in interest in music therapy,” Lesoon says.
She says the message of suicide prevention continues through this and that there are other avenues, but she is grateful for all who have helped her through this process.
“I feel that I poured my grief into this, this whole process helps me heal up still healing, you know, you never really get over anything like this,” Lesoon says.
Applications for this scholarship will open in the fall semester, for its first recipient.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with the thought of suicide, please call the hotline at 9-8-8.
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