Eric and Diane Graham of Austin have taken a heartbreaking situation and turned it into one of hope for others with the establishment of four endowment funds at the Scott County Community Foundation.
The couple’s daughter, Lauren, was 22 when she was tragically killed in a car accident the night before her commencement ceremony at the University of South Carolina. Several people had asked the Grahams about donating to a memorial fund in her memory. Eric was a founding board member of the Community Foundation, and the couple decided that was the best place for money to go.
“We believed in the Community Foundation,” said Diane. “It had more staying power,” she said.
Lauren was involved in tennis and she was active in the ZTA Sorority. She was also involved in breast cancer fund-raisers at her school. Thus three funds were established, the Lauren Graham Memorial Tennis Fund, to support tennis programs in Scott County School Districts; the Lauren Graham Memorial Breast Cancer Fund, to provide support to breast cancer research in Scott County; and the Lauren Graham Memorial Fund, to provide support to charitable organizations through the Scott County Community Foundation grants committee.
“It was an important thing to her that people who couldn’t possibly afford to go to college be given the opportunity to go,” said Diane. “She felt it was a waste if people had talent and couldn’t afford to go.”
With these endowment funds, the family can help others to achieve their dreams in memory of Lauren.
The Grahams have also set up a fund in memory of Eric’s mother, the Addie Mae Graham Memorial Fund. Its purpose is to provide support to charitable organizations through the Scott County Community Foundation grants committee.