Though Michelle Bonasera only lived to be 19, her legacy will help others for years to come.
Bonasera died Feb. 13 when her Chevy Blazer drifted off southbound U.S. Highway 95 near Moscow, went over an embankment and rolled. Bonasera died at the scene. Police believe she’d fallen asleep at the wheel. Bonasera’s passenger, Andreé Maxwell, 20, suffered multiple injuries in the crash and spent 19 days in a hospital. She is now at home in Boise and expected to make a full recovery.
The College of Education at the University of Idaho, where Bonasera was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and health, is raising money for a memorial fund to honor her.
“It gets us through the day that something good can possibly come out of this,” said her mother, Vicki Bonasera.
Christina Randal, director of development with the College of Education, said more than 700 people attended Bonasera’s memorial, which prompted her to start the memorial scholarship.
“When I saw how many lives she impacted – young and old – the idea just kind of came to me,” Randal said.
“I thought, ‘What a wonderful way to pay it forward and have her impact more lives in the future,’ ” she said.
Once the scholarship fund reaches $25,000, the college will award one $1,000 scholarship a year.
“She would be so proud of that scholarship,” Vicki Bonasera said of her daughter. “She wouldn’t believe it, that people would do that in her name.”
Bonasera’s family is also working with staff at Coeur d’Alene High School, where Bonasera was active in DECA, a marketing education club, to create a scholarship for students there.
“We’re starting it out with part of Michelle’s savings, because we couldn’t think of anything better to do with her hard-earned money than to give it to DECA,” she said.