Lloyd's legacy lives on 30 years later through Susan Fund
Published 4:46 pm, Thursday, November 11, 2010
This is a story that hits all notes on the human emotion scale. There are tears here. And sadness. But there is also hope, luck, valor, faith and, above all, love.
This report is about the "Susan" of The Susan Fund. Her name is Susan Davis Lloyd, the sunny-dispositioned cheerleader and graduate of the Staples class of 1980 who was on a crutch when receiving her diploma 30 years ago.
Since its creation in 1982, The Susan Fund has awarded more than $1 million in scholarships to more than 600 Fairfield County youths who have been or are being treated for cancer. The Fund is headed by Susan's mother, Ann Lloyd.
"While Susan's desire to attend college was never realized, her dream survives through the lives of The Susan Fund recipients," Lloyd said.
She recalled that the air was filled with joy and excitement on June 29 when friends and families gathered at the Unitarian Church in Westport to celebrate the awarding of 30 Susan Fund scholarships for 2010.
This year's awards totaled $73,000. Lloyd, chairman of The Susan Fund Board of Directors, pinned a red rose on each recipient. This year's Susan Fund awardees, as with those in the past, form a living memorial to Susan Lloyd.
Brandon Held, a Monroe resident who is a four-time recipient of a Susan Fund scholarship, spoke about his illness and the importance of the Fund.
"Surviving cancer was a major accomplishment for me," said the University of Connecticut student who hopes to become a certified public accountant. "But the things I have learned from that difficult period are even more valuable. I reflect on those times often. In my daily life I do my best to offer to help others as I was helped six years ago."
"Every time I attend a Susan Fund event, the board members say that they love to see all the students growing and achieving their goals. It has finally clicked with me that with each one of our successes, The Susan Fund succeeds," Held said.
"The attainment of our goals is a testament to the success of this great scholarship," he added.
Lloyd said the scholarships are given to deserving students who reside in Fairfield County and who have had cancer. Lloyd, who had four children, is the grandmother of seven.
Amy Potts, who graduated with Susan in 1980, says in the new Susan Fund annual report: "Susan Lloyd had a tremendous affect on Staples' Class of 1980. For our thirtieth reunion we wanted to honor her memory and raise funds for The Susan Fund."
"For the majority of our class Susan's diagnosis and battle with cancer during our senior year was our first exposure to a cancer patient in our age group. A strong memory we all have is Susan coming back in our senior year with one less leg and an attitude that couldn't be beat."
"She showed us courage and taught our class how to look beyond ourselves and keep smiling in the face of adversity."
"Our Reunion Committee notified Ann Lloyd of our intent to raise money for The Susan Fund during the three-day reunion. Ann Lloyd was touched that we remembered Susan after all these years. Over 200 of Susan's classmates attended various events at the Black Duck and Viva Zapata. The reunion culminated in a clambake at Compo Beach at sunset."
"It was magical. Ann Lloyd attended, as well as Phil Brandt, a 2002 Susan Fund scholarship recipient from Danbury. He volunteered to assist us in fundraising during the Clambake. Some $2,000 was raised."
Commenting on the reunion, Brandt said, "People exchanged stories going back to their together years at high schools. People traveled from as far away as Luxembourg to come together to participate in this beautiful event. Memories of Susan were shared, along with battles fought by other friends."
"There was a sense of appreciation for the collective moment they were able to share and, in that spirit, people expressed their generosity in supporting The Susan Fund."
Reflections on Susan were shared by classmate John Nathan.
"Thirty years ago this past June, the Staples Class of 1980 graduated from high school. Among the graduates was a blonde-haired, bright-eyed and often smiling girl named Susan Lloyd."
"My locker had been close to Susan's since junior high ... As a high school student, I had no idea what she was going through only that cancer was a big, scary, serious thing that we talked about it briefly in hushed tones. If we hadn't seen Susan at school for a week, we held our breath."
"When I was 25, I was diagnosed with a form of lymphoma and my world spun. During that time I often thought of Susan and wondered at the strength and grace with which she battled at such a young age."
"In my time of struggle, the Susan Fund helped me focus on the path ahead. As I continued treatment, they helped pay for the acting classes I was taking which later led to work on the stage, television, and film. As my interest shifted toward working with people in the field of mental health, The Susan Fund was there to help me pay for graduate school at New York University School of Social Work."
Another cameo of Susan Lloyd was delivered by Jeff Booth during a recent Susan Fund Award reception. He and Susan worked together at the Westport movie theatre while in high school.
"Throughout my adult life, I have been inspired by and in awe of Susan's courageous battle with cancer. I first met her when we started working together at the movie theatre. At that time, Susan was perfectly healthy, long blond-haired high school cheerleader."
"As I got to know her, she quickly squashed away misconceptions I had about long blond-haired cheerleaders. She was extremely bright, had a terrific sense of humor and a delightful sarcastic streak that could literally stop people in their tracks."
"When we had a really popular movie, we always wanted Susan to be the cashier. She barked out to the line of people waiting to buy tickets -- `Next please. Keep moving. And have your ticket money ready.'"
"I remember after Susan's diagnosis, no one really knew how she would handle it. But she had the same determination with her fight with cancer that she did with selling those tickets. Susan was going to get through it as fast as possible and she was not going to let cancer rule or define her life."
"I suspect that recent recipients of Susan Fund awards feel the same way. Despite the challenges they face, the fact that they receive these scholarships and continue their education demonstrates that their disease is not going to define their lives either. They are to be congratulated."
The 2010 recipients come from Monroe, Shelton, Stamford, Darien, Westport, Weston, Wilton, New Canaan, Greenwich, Trumbull, Fairfield, New Fairfield, Old Greenwich, Norwalk, Bethel, Newtown and Bridgeport. They are studying at Fairfield University, Northeastern University, Loyola Marymount University, the University of Connecticut, Dartmouth, Rider College, Norwalk Community College, Wheelock College, Sarah Lawrence College, Roger Williams College and other fine universities and colleges.
For more information about The Susan Fund, or to make a donation, visit www.thesusanfund.org