Story by Mike May | Photo by Frank Koester
Some people and the organizations they represent have a magnetic appeal that attracts the right people to the right place for the right cause. That aptly describes the leadership provided by RoseAnn Voils, one of the directors of the Wellington-based Christopher Aguirre Memorial Foundation.
The foundation has been in existence since 2009. Its mission is to give back to the Wellington community through educational and athletic opportunities to local children.
The foundation was created in memory of Voils’ son, Christopher Aguirre, who lost his life in 2006 when he was tragically struck and killed by a drunk driver while walking in downtown Fort Lauderdale. He was only 23 years old.
To help continue Christopher’s passion for helping people, the nonprofit Christopher Aguirre Memorial Foundation was created.
“Every parent who loses a child wants their child to be remembered, even though they are not physically on Earth,” said Voils, who works for Palm Beach County in administration at Palm Tran Connection. “What helps our family cope with the tragedy is seeing other families receive the benefits from our foundation. It helps keep Christopher’s memory alive, carries on his legacy and makes all the work we put into the foundation worthwhile.”
The foundation’s contributions to local lives in Wellington are numerous.
In 2011, the Christopher Aguirre Memorial Scholarship was established and is awarded annually to an outstanding Wellington High School senior pursuing a degree at Florida State University. Christopher was a graduate of WHS and was just a few weeks away from graduating from FSU at the time of his death. It’s a $10,000 scholarship awarded in four annual installments of $2,500. Past recipients are Jessica Pollack (2011), Truly Long (2012), Brittany Barnhart (2013), Erin McNally (2014), Elliot Dion (2015), Isabella Bruce (2016), Jessica Gabriel (2017), Kaitlyn Osmond (2018), Alyssa Adams (2019), Desandre Stanley (2020), Rylee Hagan (2021), McKenna Tosner (2022) and Rylee Bleakley (2023).
The foundation is also known for co-sponsoring events with the Village of Wellington. This year, the foundation hosted the annual Back-to-School “Party in the Park,” in partnership with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue on Aug. 4 at the Wellington Amphitheater. It was a way for local families to celebrate the end of summer and prepare for the upcoming school year. This outdoor event was free to attend and enjoy. In addition to many food trucks, there were 20 vendors, multiple bounce houses, costumed character entertainment, face painting, a disc jockey playing music, and PBSO and PBCFR vehicles to visit.
In recent years, the foundation has also underwritten local summer camp experiences for Wellington children — many of whom are members of Wellington’s Boys & Girls Club — who come from families that have limited finances.
To help make Halloween safe, the foundation has worked with officials at Wellington High School to host a “Trunk or Treat” candy giveaway in the WHS parking lot for local elementary school-age children and those from local day care centers.
“We also donate food to local churches during Thanksgiving,” Voils added. “Back in 2015, we started giving away shoes to people in need. We distribute 500 to 600 shoes a year.”
To help raise funds to support its charitable efforts throughout the year, the foundation hosts its annual invitational golf tournament every fall. This year’s tournament will be played at the Dye Preserve Golf Club in Jupiter on Nov. 13. Funds from sponsorships will be used to further the foundation’s scholarships and its other projects throughout the year.