For the past five years Cathie Bernardi and her family have been remembering their daughter, Kayla Bernardi, through the Bee Positive Foundation.
Kayla was born with down syndrome and her first year of her life she had three open heart surgeries, which led to many challenges. However, it did not stop her from participating in sports and drama throughout her school years.
Kayla’s participation in these types of activities was only fitting for the foundation’s name.
“Kayla’s nickname was busy bee so it was a natural name to attach to her foundation so we put the busy bee in there and made it Bee Positive Foundation, she was pretty busy all the time,” said Bernardi.
They lost Kayla in March of 2015 due to leukemia. After that first year, they began the foundation in January because her birthday fell on January 31st.
“Her birthday falls on January 31st so we thought Kayla loved parties and loved to be organizing things so we thought it would be a good match to do on her birthday,” Bernardi added.
All proceeds of the Bee Postive Foundation go all over Turlock in addition to the surrounding cities. The Bernardi's try to give back to the community by giving away two scholarships to high schools around the area, Pitman High School, Turlock High School, Merced High, and Atwater High.
Another way they try to give back is also by donating proceeds to other local foundations and charities like Letters to Santa, Young Life, Valley Children’s of Modesto, Coyotes Kepts of Kindness in Denair, Turlock High FFA, Turlock Relay For Life, and Make a Wish Foundation through Stanislaus Athletics.
“We have so many people that contribute to our foundation from the surrounding communities so we try to give a ton to Turlock but also to the surrounding communities that also support us,” Bernardi said.
Bryan Nelson has been sponsoring under Orion Wealth Inc., a financial planning company he owns here in Turlock as well as Blue Chip Sports which is the official sport broadcast affiliate for Stanislaus State Basketball and Baseball since the start of the foundation.
“When Kayla died and the Bernardi’s started the foundation in her honor I wanted to do anything I could to get their message out to the community. The message of positivity and perseverance were embodied by Kayla’s spirit and continues in the foundation’s purpose,” Nelson said.
Seen throughout the community as well as their sponsors, the Bernardi’s had helped carried Kayla’s positivity throughout the Turlock community.
“The Bernardi family has taken a very difficult situation, the passing of Kayla, and turned it into a positive for the Turlock community. The funds they have raised have directly impacted many different groups throughout our area,” Nelson expressed.
Stanislaus State Athletics Department had partnered with the foundation allowing some teams to volunteer at the run.
“ I am pleased, as an alumnus of Stan State, that the school, and the athletic department in particular, have partnered with this great foundation to help change lives,” Nelson added.
The Bernardi’s chose to live a life where they should always try to find the positive even during the toughest situations.
“Everyone has a story, they can make the choice to be positive or negative,” Bernardi said.