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Ray Duckler

Ray Duckler: Remembering Kyara, a light that never dims

  • Kerrigan Bridges and her mother, Deb, were outside a grocery store in Goffstoown on Tuesday, December 31, 2013 raising money for the Kyara Mailhot Scholarship Fund as part of Bridges senior project at John Stark Regional High School. The two were selling tickets to the Bruins alumni hockey game on Sunday at New England College in Henniker. Kyara was 7 years-old when she died due to injuries from a car accident in Concord in October 2012.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

    Kerrigan Bridges and her mother, Deb, were outside a grocery store in Goffstoown on Tuesday, December 31, 2013 raising money for the Kyara Mailhot Scholarship Fund as part of Bridges senior project at John Stark Regional High School. The two were selling tickets to the Bruins alumni hockey game on Sunday at New England College in Henniker. Kyara was 7 years-old when she died due to injuries from a car accident in Concord in October 2012.

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

  • Kerrigan Bridges and her mother, Deb, were outside a grocery store in Goffstoown on Tuesday, December 31, 2013 raising money for the Kyara Mailhot Scholarship Fund as part of Bridges senior project at John Stark Regional High School. The two were selling tickets to the Bruins alumni hockey game on Sunday at New England College in Henniker. Kyara was 7 years-old when she died due to injuries from a car accident in Concord in October 2012.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

Kyara Mailhot’s photo, showing the bluest eyes you ever saw, provided some warmth on a really cold day.

The people raising money in Kyara’s name stood shivering outside two markets, their faces red and raw.

Kyara’s story only added to the chill, the story of a 7-year-old girl who died after a car crash two years ago in Concord. That’s why Kerrigan Bridges, a senior at John Stark Regional High, was at Sully’s Superette in Goffstown this week, wrapped in blankets and a furry hood, her mother by her side.

Bridges chose event planning for her senior project, so mother and daughter sold tickets for a hockey game Sunday, which will feature the Boston Bruins Alumni against the New England College men’s and women’s hockey teams at the Lee Clement Arena in Henniker.

They’re raising money for the Kyara Ava Mailhot Scholarship Fund, which will help local high school seniors pay for college.

Over at Shaw’s in Hillsboro stood Mike and Deb Mailhot, Kyara’s father and grandmother. That’s where the framed photo of Kyara was, on a long table, near a jar stuffed with cash and posters announcing Sunday’s game.

But the star of the show is not Rick Middleton or Andy Brickley or Bob Beers or any of the other former Bruins who will take the ice.

The star is Kyara.

She shoehorned a ton of optimism and energy into her short life, a challenge, really, because her parents split at an early age.

But that never got in the way of Kyara’s happiness. “She always had a smile on her face,” Mike Mailhot said. “She was always seeing the good in everything, no matter if someone was sad or down. If I was down and she saw it, she’d give me a hug. She loved hugs.”

She also loved to swim and snowboard and go apple picking. She got dirty like a tomboy, sometimes going hunting with her grandfather, then she could transform herself into a princess.

“She would take any situation where she could be active and she would embrace it,” Mailhot said.

Kyara was 3 years old when Deb Bridges, Kerrigan’s mother, first met her. Bridges and Deb Mailhot work together at New England College, and Bridges recalled when Deb Mailhot brought her granddaughter to work at the Henniker campus.

“I watched Kyara grow up,” Deb Bridges said. “They always welcomed Kyara. She got spoiled by a lot of students on campus. She was a beautiful freckle-faced little girl – big eyes, great smile. She just loved to have fun.”

Added Deb Mailhot, “She was not afraid to try anything at any time.”

She’s the reason Kerrigan raised $1,200 staging a road race in November, another part of her senior project, and she’s the reason Kerrigan and her mother stood in the cold as the year came to an end, shivering for six hours in the parking lot of that small market in Goffstown.

And, 20 miles away in Hillsboro, Kyara was the reason the Mailhots froze in that other grocery store parking lot.

For Kyara.

As Mike Mailhot said, “She always saw the light, whenever it was dark.”

(Ray Duckler can be reached at 369-3304 or rduckler@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @rayduckler.)

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