WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — A year after a deadly accident on East Main Street, something beautiful happened there. A colorful memorial garden has sprouted up filled with pretty flowers and pictures of a 20-year-old angel gone too soon.
That’s how old Dominique Dalessio was when the car she was in was hit by a driver who police say confessed to being drunk and high behind the wheel, losing control of his car and swerving into the one carrying Dominique.
It happened just before Mother’s Day last year. Just before Mother’s Day this year, more than 100 people gathered at the garden for its dedication and blessing — confirming to Deborah Dalessio just how much her daughter was loved in the Waterbury community.
“All this makes me happy,” Deborah said. “To see all these kids whose lives she touched.”
Deborah says Mother’s Day has turned into a battle for her.
“Every day is hard but Mother’s Day is gonna be really, really hard,” she said. “My daughter always made me videos, made me cards. And I was so happy beyond words when I found them because that’s all I have of her.”
When Deborah started crying, people watching our interview approached with hugs. Deborah has known many of Dominique’s diverse group of friends since they were little kids. The group got together for songs, prayers and companionship.
Seeing all of this gave Deborah comfort that her daughter’s spirit is still very much alive among those who called her “family” even though there’s no biological tie. It’s one of the reasons why Deborah does not want her daughter’s legacy to be that of an accident victim. Deborah and her family have decided to create the Dominique Dalessio Scholarship Fund. It’ll help Catholic students in Waterbury who excel at sports.
“Because Dominique always liked that,” Deborah said.
It’ll also go to local college students who pursue a legal career in civil rights laws.
“She believed very strongly in civil rights,” Deborah said. “She would argue with you to Kingdom Come.”
Deborah says a good Mother’s Day gift would be to see other kids blossom thanks to her daughter’s spirit and scholarship in her name.
“I don’t want her to die in vain,” Deborah said.