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Family fundraise for Kijani Burgess award

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Antoinette Burgess starts the Kijani Burgess Dream Award for Bermuda Institute pupils who graduated high school despite learning challenges (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The mother of a teenager who died last year after a motorcycle accident is hoping to raise money to start a scholarship in honour of her son.

Antoinette Burgess said that fundraising had started for the Kijani Burgess Dream Award and that she hoped to raise at least $10,000.

The award, which was created in memory of the late 16-year-old, would be offered to Bermuda Institute pupils who received their high school diploma despite learning difficulties.

Ms Burgess said: “Kijani was that special little boy – he was a true gift from God for our family – so to be able to give back to the Bermuda Institute for all that they have given us since his death we had to find a way to say ’thank you’.

“We believe that Kijani would want us to thank everyone for supporting us.”

Kijani died on January 13 last year after his scooter hit a taxi near Scaur Hill, in Sandys, and he fell into the path of a fire engine on its way to an emergency call-out with its lights and sirens on.

Teachers and pupils at the Bermuda Institute, in Southampton, where he attended, wore blue soon after the accident to pay tribute to the youngster and others who lost their lives on Bermuda’s roads.

Antoinette Burgess, centre, starts the Kijani Burgess Dream Award for Bermuda Institute pupils who graduated high school despite learning challenges. Also pictured is award treasurer Yulanda Francis, left, and sister Khaeljah Burgess, right (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Ms Burgess said that the money would help the Kijani Burgess Dream Award give a $2,500 bursary every year for the next four years and that any remaining money would cover the costs of their yearly fundraisers under they could receive more funds.

She added that a committee for the Kijani Burgess Dream Award was “brainstorming” ideas for fundraisers throughout the year.

These ideas included an “Auction of Dreams” for Mother’s Day where participants can bid on a gift basket filled with vouchers and other goods.

Ms Burgess added that a GoFundMe page had been launched on March 23.

She also said: “We’ve thought of other things, but we don’t want to announce them until we can figure out exactly how to put them together.”

Ms Burgess said that Kijani had undiagnosed learning challenges and struggled in school, but continued to give his best in spite of his difficulties.

She added that she wanted the scholarship to help fund the education of pupils who completed high school in spite of their learning difficulties, much like her son was on track to do.

Applicants would be tasked with putting together a creative presentation with the theme of “Someday I Will” to show their creative abilities and highlight the passions that they hope to follow.

Ms Burgess said: “It’s just so important that sometimes the children who are not the best academically and have these challenges don’t have the opportunity to get the awards and the scholarships that the high-flyers get, so we want to recognise those who would be overlooked.”

She added: “We will never experience what other parents get to experience – that is, watching our son graduate.

“He believed in helping those who were less fortunate and he believed in doing random acts of kindness, so we think this is a good way to honour his memory.”

Ms Burgess added that she was blown away by the support her family received after Kijani’s death, particularly from his class.

She said: “His classmates shared with us that he would share his lunch with others.

“It blew us away that not only would we do that, but he could be waiting in line to purchase his lunch and just go up to anyone and say ’I bought your lunch today’.”

Ms Burgess added: “His dream was to become famous so that everyone would know who he was and remember his name.

“Not only that, but he wanted to give back to Bermuda and help those who were less fortunate.

“That’s what we want him to be remembered for – being a good child and being someone who wanted to help others.”

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Published April 05, 2021 at 9:09 am (Updated April 05, 2021 at 9:09 am)

Family fundraise for Kijani Burgess award

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