The Richardson Scholarships

Cathy Lynne Richardson Scholarship

Cathy Lynne Richardson, Laurie Ann's sister, has autism and is developmentally delayed. How Cathy faced those challenges was the inspiration for her younger sister Laurie's pursuit of a career in Special Education; Cathy was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3. It was not until she turned 16, with the opening of the LaVoy Exceptional Center in 1976, that Cathy received the special assistance she required. The Center was the first of its kind in the Hillsborough County school system.

In 1981, at the age of 21, Cathy graduated from the LaVoy Exceptional Center and went on to attend the Learning and Achievement Center, a sheltered workshop under the auspices of the Hillsborough Association for Retarded Citizens. Eight years later, Cathy left her parents' home for the first time to reside in a group home. Her parents felt the need for getting Cathy adjusted to a group home environment since her sister Laure had died and there would be no one to care for her after they passed away. Cathy lived in the group home during the week and came home on weekends and holidays. She returned home to live with her parents after 18 months, since the group home had proven not to be the best solution. Although Cathy struggles with severe disabilities, her captivating smile and sparkling eyes have gained her countless friends. She continues to be an inspiration and a source of joy for her family and others. 

Cathy's experiences in the group home and with other special care professionals inspired her parents to establish the Cathy Lynne Richardson Endowed Doctoral Scholarship. The scholarship, awarded in honor of Cathy Lynne Richardson, recognizes Cathy's capacity for love and the lesson she teaches through her life about the importance of every individual. Jack and Alice realized the importance of maintaining high standards of professional preparation for persons working in the field of Special Education. Through this scholarship Jack and Alice Richardson hope that others who share Cathy's spirit of love and joy will be inspired to devote their careers to helping enhance the lives of individuals with disabilities.

A plaque honoring Cathy and the annual recipients is displayed and maintained by the Exceptional Education program. Each year, the name of the current scholarship recipient is engraved on this plaque in honor of his/her academic and personal achievement.