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Golf keeps alive the memory of a 'great kid'

| Thursday, July 8, 2004

On the evening of April 26, 1997, 12-year-old Rachel Mogielski was watching hockey great Mario Lemieux play what was supposed to be his last game as a Pittsburgh Penguin, and looking forward to the start of softball season in two days.

Although she had been diagnosed with juvenile diabetes a year earlier, the Harmony and Evans City Elementary sixth-grader had been able to lead a relatively normal, active life, helped by daily shots of insulin.

That life, however, ended in the early hours of April 27, 1997. Rachel, as a result of complications from diabetes, died in her sleep.

"It's the worst thing that can happen to any parent," said her dad, Robert "Moe" Mogielski. "She was a great kid."

Hoping to make something positive come out of the tragedy, friends of the Mogielski family -- which includes her mother, Ruth, and her brothers, Tony, 15, and Steven, 12 -- immediately started working to come up with a way to remember Rachel, and help others.

The result was the Rachel A. Mogielski Scholarship Fund, and on July 17, for the seventh consecutive year, a golf outing will be held to raise money for the fund.

To date, the fund has given out more that $18,000 in scholarships to students from school districts across the area, including North Allegheny, North Hills and Seneca Valley, where Rachel was to be part of the Class of 2003.

Students are considered based on their grades and involvement in school, community and church activities, said Clyde Gifford, co-director of the tournament.

Those areas, Mogielski said, were all important to his daughter, who enjoyed school, helping others and playing softball and soccer. She also was an avid Penguin fan, always rooting for her favorite player, Jaromir Jagr.

"She liked Jagr, and I liked Lemieux," Mogielski said. "We used to argue back and forth about who was better."

Gifford, who has known the Mogielski family for years, said he is happy that the fund is in place. Each year, the event has grown, both bringing out more golfers and raising more money. For example, in its first year, 24 golfers raised $500. Last year, 196 golfers raised $8,000.

"It not only keeps Rachel's memory alive, but it also helps other kids who want to continue their education," he said. "It's nice to be able to do both."

Mogielski said his family is touched by the fact that so many work so hard to organize the golf outing and run the scholarship fund.

"It's always good to know that Rachel is remembered," he said. "It means a lot to us."

Additional Information:

If you go

What: Rachel A. Mogielski Scholarship Fund Golf Outing

When: July 17, start times at 7 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Where: Lake Vue North Golf Course, Route 8, Butler

Cost : $60, includes food and chance at numerous prizes, including a Jaguar donated by Bobby Rahal Motors.

Contact: For more information, call John Bulger at (800) 689-8319. To make a donation, make checks payable to the Rachel A. Mogielski Scholarship Fund and send it to John Bulger, 108 Pine Street, Zelienople, PA 16063.

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