Standing in front of Chautauqua Lake Central School’s Class of 2019, Aimee Rowe repeated one key piece of advice, always pursue kindness.
For the last nine months, Aimee, her family and her friends have been spreading the importance of kindness following the tragic death of her 13-year old son, Owen Miller.
“Kindness is one of those words we don’t hear much about because we assume everyone knows what it means,” Aimee said. “We think it means being nice, smiling, opening the door for someone, but true kindness is so much more than that.”
She went on to explain how true kindness does not have a hidden agenda, nor does it expect anything in return. But that it doesn’t go unrecognized.
Following Owen’s death, Aimee and her family established a scholarship at the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation to assist CLCS graduating seniors who illustrate extreme kindness and who go out of their way to do the right thing.
Recently, with her cousin and her mother by her side, Aimee presented Kyler Majka, the very first Owen J. Miller Memorial Scholarship.
“In a world where it can be hard to fit in and to always do the right thing, Kyler is an incredible example of a young man who could have gone a bad way if he didn’t make good decisions,” Ashley Rowe, Aimee’s cousin, said.
Growing up with a single mom and an autistic sister, Kyler has always thought outside of the box and put others first.
In his senior year, Kyler, along with the varsity football team, helped make CLCS middle school student Drake McKane, an honorary team captain during the high school’s season opener. Drake, who has been diagnosed with leukemia, was able to run out onto the field with the team and stand on the sidelines throughout the game.
“Kyler was also instrumental in organizing a fundraiser during basketball season to benefit Drake and his family,” Ashley said.
A leader, on and off the field, Kyler will attend Onondaga Community College to play baseball in the fall. Inspired by his sister, and other students with special needs, he will study physical education, with the goal to work specifically with special education students.
“I have no doubt in my mind that Kyler will do special things in his life,” Ashley said. “We are grateful to him, and for the others, that can change the world with kindness.”
It’s what Owen would have wanted.