WATERVILLE — More than six months after her sudden death, the memory of Cassidy Charette is alive and strong in the central Maine communities she called home.

The 17-year-old Messalonskee High School student was killed in a hayride accident in Mechanic Falls last October. She is remembered as an aspiring young woman who dedicated herself to schoolwork, sports teammates and service to her community.

But the crowd that filled up Spare Time Recreation Saturday to “Bowl for Cassidy’s Sake” shows that Cassidy’s impact went far beyond her personal contributions.

Amid the sounds of rolling balls and crashing pins, 50 teams of bowlers secured more than $36,000 in donations for a Big Brothers Big Sisters program set up in Cassidy’s honor at Messalonskee High School earlier this year. Cassidy advocated for the school to start a Big Brothers Big Sisters program, but when one wasn’t available, she became a big sister through the Alfond Youth Center.

Monica Wilcox Charette, Cassidy’s mother, said her daughter was just weeks away from meeting her first little sister when she was killed in the accident.

At the event Saturday, Wilcox Charette could hardly wrench a minute away from the press of people inundating her with hugs, condolences and friendship.

About 250 people signed up in advance to bowl, but more arrived to register in person, Wilcox Charette said.

“Cassidy would be humbled by all of this attention,” she noted, looking out at a sea of bowlers wearing blue and white T-shirts made for the event.

Many also sported small blue and plaid bows. Blue was her daughter’s favorite color, and the plaid signifies Mount Merici Academy in Waterville, where Cassidy went to elementary school, Wilcox Charette said.

Among the bowlers were Kayla Christopher, a Messalonskee High School junior who had just finished bowling with her “little” sister Christina.

Christopher is one of 17 Messalonskee teens who have been paired with younger students for the Messalonskee Big Brothers Big Sisters program.

She was motivated to sign up for the program because of how much it meant to Cassidy, Christopher said.

“A lot of my friends signed up, too,” she said. “We were all friends with Cassidy. We were inspired by her.”

The teen’s influence was so strong that about 100 students signed up to be “bigs,” one of the strongest turnouts for a new program organizers said they had ever seen.

Kacey Wilcox, Cassidy’s cousin, bowled with three of her friends. The women had traveled from the Portland area to take part in the event, but Wilcox said she was surprised at the crowd.

“I had no idea there would be this many people, or that they’d be here all day,” Wilcox said.

Cassidy Charette’s memory is also living on at Messalonskee High and in the Oakland Town Office.

The high school’s class of 2016 last year started raising funds for the Cassidy Jean Scholarship Fund by selling “Messo Strong” T-shirts and ornaments. So far, almost $22,300 has been raised for the higher education scholarship, and the first recipients will be awarded to members of the class of 2016, according to Wilcox Charette.

The school has also started a “Shine on Cass” service award that will be presented annually to a student or students who “best exemplify Cassidy’s spirit for community service,” Wilcox Charette said.

The Oakland Town Council also honored the teen by dedicating its annual town report to her memory and featuring her photograph as the centerpiece of its cover. Cassidy’s portrait is surrounded with photos of town officials and community volunteers who passed away in 2014.

“Cassidy represented our future. She was a shining star,” said Town Manager Gary Bowman, explaining the cover.

“Most of the people on there lived a full, healthy life, but hers was cut short,” he said.

Peter McGuire — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @PeteL_McGuire

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