It was always Janelle's dream to play Division 1 softball. She achieved that last year as a freshman at Monmouth University. But her career ended after just one semester. In January, Janelle died of bacterial meningitis out of nowhere. One day she got sick, the next day she was gone.
As part of our campaign this season, we offered Cynthia $500, but there was a catch. She had to give that money away to someone else in need, which is why she thought of Janelle's parents, Selena and Raymond. They are organizing a softball clinic to kick off the first donations for a scholarship fund in their daughter's name.
"I know her family could use it to pay it forward also," said Cynthia.
We headed out to find the Moorehead family in Mira Loma. No one was home, but we didn't give up that easily. We found out Selena Moorehead works in Perris. We let her coworkers at the Eastern Municipal Water District in on the surprise, and headed for Selena's cubicle.
Cynthia filled her in on what was going on.
"With this $500, I want to put it towards Nellie's scholarship fund so we can help another kid go to college," Cynthia said to Selena. "It's going to help pay it forward to another kid - another kid who's out there and wants to play ball and had as big a heart as Nellie did. I love her and I miss her so much."
Selena cried as she hugged Cynthia.
"I appreciate it so much. I'm just always surprised and I'm very grateful and thankful for you and everyone who wants to help," Selena said.
She became even more emotional showing us her daughter's pictures. This will be the first Christmas their family will have without Janelle.
"She was my firstborn. She was just the world to us," said Selena. "She had a lot going for her."
Selena's coworkers gathered around in support.
"Selena is the kind of person we aspire to be like. When she lost Janelle, it was so sudden and so sad, and she held herself with such dignity and grace," said coworker Donna Jacoment.
"I'm so happy. No one deserves it more than her," said another coworker, Malea Ortloff.
Selena said Janelle would be proud she's now helping other kids.
"If you have a good heart and you want to see others besides yourself benefit from what you benefited from in the past, why not pay it forward?" said Selena.
The first-ever Janelle Moorehead Softball Clinic is this weekend.
How you can help the Janelle Moorehead Scholarship Fund:
Contact: Lucille Flynn, (732) 571-3502 (E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Janelle Moorehead Scholarship Softball Camp website
Janelle Moorehead Scholarship Fund on Facebook