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Date of Issue: August 11, 2005

Bright future for Bridget memorial scholars

Bridget Miller of Anna Maria will not have died in vain. Her young life will be immortalized by donations in her memory to a special scholarship fund established by the Anna Maria Island Privateers.

Bridget was killed in a car accident Tuesday, Aug. 3, in the early morning hours, just shortly after she arrived at the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport on a flight from Colorado and a visit with her mother.

Bridget was a passenger, and the only seriously injured party in the car driven by friend Lillie Marnie, also of Anna Maria. The other vehicle in the crash made impact with Marnie’s car precisely where Bridget was seated in the rear seat. Her injuries were numerous and life-saving efforts at the scene of the crash were futile. Her aorta had been "nicked" and she was pronounced dead.

Friends of the family, devastated by the news, gathered later that day at the Millers Anna Maria home with dad Dennis and stepmom Diana, and their blended family, including older brother Dennis, 22, who flew home from New York City, Brendan 17, Carissa, 16, and Max, 9. Mother Sandy King flew in from Colorado where Bridget has three half-sisters, Catherine, Rebecca and Rachel. Many more family members and friends began arriving for support.

Everyone sought to make sense of a senseless tragedy. Bridget’s friends "migrated" to us, Diana said. They just kept showing up at the door until there were about 12 of her friends gathered at the Miller house Tuesday night. "Some of the them weren’t even friends, but they left our house with their love for Bridget as their bond," she said.

Others came. "Dennis’ cub scout troop, all of them, came to the door," Diana said. "Kids Dennis has coached at the Center, kids in the neighborhood, their parents - they all reached out to us."

Diana and Dennis came to Anna Maria Island just four years ago, but they quickly learned that in the face of tragedy, Islanders offer support from the heart.

With those offers came an idea to create a scholarship to help other young folks in Bridget’s name. "She dreamed of going to Manatee Community College to pursue nursing. She somehow knew her creative nature would help others through art therapy. She and her friends were enrolling together at MCC," said Diana.

"She had so many dreams."

While those dreams may not be realized, Bridget will help others to realize their dreams of a bright future and a college education with a scholarship fund in her name.

Liz Christie-Cline of the Privateers, who oversees the Privateers annual scholarship awards, will also oversee a special fund created by memorials to Bridget. It will be awarded in July 2006 along with the other scholarships distributed by the Privateers. The recipients are honored by the community in the annual Privateer July 4 parade and receive their funding at a party in their honor following the parade.

Bridget will reside in the hearts of many, her memory will live on with them far beyond her 18 years. And Bridget’s spirit will be celebrated anew on July 4, and hopefully, for many years to come through donations to the Bridget Miller Memorial Privateer Scholarship Fund. Send donations to the AMI Privateers Bridget Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 1238, Holmes Beach FL 34218.