Everyone faces tragedy at some point in their life, although few things can be as devastating when it happens at an early age. To those unfortunate enough to experience this loss, a tragic situation can be made even worse if the individual allows the heartbreak of losing a mother or father to turn into prolonged bitterness or anger. On the other hand, it is a truly exceptional person who can not only overcome their tragedy, but can turn it into something positive to help others overcome their loss as well.

For Megan D’Arcy, the loss of her father in a plane crash New Year’s Eve 2006, when she was only 13, had an understandably profound impact on her life. Fortunately, with the help of her mother and the Michigan-based Foundation For The Kids, Megan was able to turn her grief into triumph as she learned how to maintain a positive outlook and use the experience of her loss to help others who had gone through the same tragedy.

In addition to her mother, Megan credits Norman Yatooma, the founder of the Foundation for the Kids, for helping her put the loss of her father into perspective. Having experienced a similar tragedy in 1993 at the age of 20 when his father was tragically killed during a carjacking, Norman Yatooma created the non-profit Foundation for the Kids to provide guidance, mentoring and financial assistance to families with children who have lost one or both parents.

Following Norman’s example and advice, Megan channeled her emotions into positive endeavors and wrote a children’s story called “Be Happy,” modeled after her own life experience. The story opens with a frog king who dies suddenly in an accident, and then centers on the frog princess who is left to grieve for her father’s loss. The frog princess’ mother teaches the princess how to deal with her loss and be happy, just as her father would have wanted.

Although written at age 13, it was five years later when Megan realized her story could reach a far wider audience and help many others who’d experienced a similar tragedy, so she made it her priority to get the story published. “I decided to publish the book I wrote when I was 13 to reach out to small children who have lost a parent or even both parents,” Megan said. “I hope the simplicity of the story and beauty of the illustrations will inspire other children who have lost a parent to be happy and strive to succeed in honor of their parent’s memories.” Not surprising to those who know her, Megan also decided to donate the profits from her book to the Foundation for the Kids.

The admiration one feels for a remarkable girl like Megan is best expressed by Norman Yatooma: “To lose your father in a plane crash is heartbreaking, but to use that tragedy as a motivation for your success rather than an excuse for your failure is inspirational.” Inspirational indeed!

17 year old Megan is a senior at Stoney Creek High School with a 4.0 GPA, captain of her varsity tennis team, and determined to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a physician. Be Happy is published by Momentum Books, illustrated by Shaughn Gawthrop and designed by AnnaMaria Sala can be found on Amazon  and Momentum Books.

Megan, thank you for the difference you make to others. You are truly an inspiration.


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