Honoring One of Our Own: A Tribute to Melanie Merola O’Donnell

The threatening rainstorms did not put a damper on The Melanie Foundation Memorial Race, called the Saratoga Palio, nor on the spirit and tenacity of the runners from the Antioch group who participated. Clinical Psychology Department Chair George Tremblay was inspired by Melanie’s loss to run his first half marathon (indeed, first race of any kind) in his mid-50s.  In addition, second-year students Sarajane Rodgers and Chad Lazzari, and Jim Schumacher, husband of Lorraine Mangione, made us all proud as they each crossed the finish line.  George’s wife, Elizabeth MacPherson, joined in as the team photographer who captured the runners’ best moments.

Melanie Merola O’Donnell was a promising young graduate student in her second year who died in a car accident in the Albany area and left her class and the Department with a huge void.  It was a privilege to be able to meet Melanie’s parents, husband, and many other relatives and friends, and to honor Melanie and her legacy.

One of her best friends started this race the same year of Melanie’s death, and the race and the Foundation, which helps to support students in the mental health world, have been going strong ever since.

Please see the picture of Melanie’s mother, Vicky Merola, standing next to Lorraine, and her aunt sitting in front of Lorraine.

For more information about Melanie and the Foundation, please visit the following website: themelaniefoundation.com/history

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