Written by Rachel Shapiro Friday, 16 April 2010 00:00
Even as they were in the midst of mourning, family and friends of Barbara and Joanna Ryan turned their grief into motivation to help others in the memory of their loved ones.
Barbara, a Bethpage mother of two, and her daughter Joanna, 11, were traveling in their car when it was struck by a tractor-trailer at the intersection of Hicksville Road and Central Ave in Bethpage on Wednesday, April 7. Both died in the accident. Barbara and Joanna are survived by Joanna’s father, Jerry and brother Jerry, 16, among other relatives.
As family and friends attended the wake and funeral for mother and daughter at O’Shea’s Funeral Home and St. Martin of Tour’s Church in Bethpage on Saturday and Sunday, April 10-11, they decided they wanted to remember Joanna and her love for music even at that difficult time.
“I knew we had to do something,” said Andrea Zuco, Joanna’s aunt. “Knowing how the kids were suffering, I just felt I had to do something because they kept asking ‘what can we do for Joanna?’”
Zuco and Joanna’s friends, classmates and brother got to work getting the word out about the Joanna Kate Ryan Memorial Music Scholarship Fund in her memory.
Zuco told Anton Community Newspapers if they are able to raise enough money, they will have two scholarships for music students at the Island Trees Middle School, where Joanna was in sixth grade and played viola in the orchestra. They also hope to have one scholarship for an Island Trees High School student.
Peter Gibbons, director of Music and Fine Arts in the Island Trees School District, said the middle school scholarships will pay the tuition for the district’s summer music program, which runs for one month in the summer.
The high school student who is selected for a scholarship would be able to pursue music study with private lessons, paid for by the scholarship, Gibbons said.
The scholarships are for, “going on and preserving the legacy of the family,” Gibbons told Anton Newspapers.
Gibbons said the scholarships would be awarded at the district’s annual performing arts banquet on May 27.
The scholarships are for students with an interest in music and who have a financial need.
Zuco started collecting funds for the scholarship and “even the kids were coming up and saying thank you for doing this for Joanna,” she said. One student asked her if she could hold a car wash for Joanna’s scholarship and Zuco’s son is doing a fundraiser at his school in Manhattan, she said.
When asked about any efforts to honor Barbara’s memory, Zuco said, “Knowing her, she would want it to be about Joanna.”
If the scholarship grows to be successful, they hope to expand it to the elementary schools, Zuco said.
Speaking for the family, Zuco said they wish to “convey our sincerest gratitude to those who contributed to the Scholarship Fund over the weekend as well as those who plan on contributing in the future. Words cannot express how appreciative we are for the outpouring of love and support through this most difficult time.”
If you would like to contribute to the Joanna Kate Ryan Memorial Music Scholarship Fund in her memory, checks can be made out to the Island Trees Music Activity Account, care of: Joanna Kate Ryan Memorial Music Scholarship Fund, and sent to Island Trees High School, 59 Straight Lane, Levittown, NY 11756.