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Sandy Hook victim’s family marks birthday with donation

October 28, 2021 GMT

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) — The parents of one of the 26 people killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting continued an annual tradition Thursday by donating $20,000 from their foundation to the Greater Waterbury YMCA.

The money from the CMAK Sandy Hook Memorial Foundation goes to the YMCA’s school readiness program and honors what would have been Chase Kowalski’s 16th birthday on Sunday.

The program provides tuition assistance for early learning programs to about 200 families each year. It has received $180,000 from the foundation over the past nine years.

“Chase had a speech delay that made it difficult for him to communicate with the students in his preschool class,” his mother, Rebecca Kowalski said. “His teachers worked very hard to help him overcome his challenges. The preschool experience and the opportunity to play with new friends gave him greater confidence in his speech. This donation honors our amazing son and gives back to the children who need scholarships at the beginning of their educational journey.”

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Chase Kowalski was among 20 first graders who were shot and killed, along with six educators, at the Newtown, Connecticut, school on Dec. 14, 2012.

The Kowalski’s foundation also has established the Race4Chase Kids’ Triathlon Program with the help of the YMCA. The six-week summer program, which has expanded to 29 camps in three states, is designed to boost fitness and self-esteem in children. About 700 kids in Connecticut, Rhode Island and South Carolina participated this year in the program, which culminates in a USA Triathlon-sanctioned children’s race.