Donna Conner was born in Erie, Pennsylvania on February 1, 1948, the daughter of August and Shirley Alessi. She graduated from Mercyhurst Preparatory High School in 1966 and attended Gannon University. As a youth, she was an avid basketball player, cheerleader, swimmer, lifeguard and water aerobics instructor. Later in life, she was a home interior designer and homemaker. A devout Catholic, she was a member of St. George Parish, St. Jude’s Church and St. Christopher’s Church in Hobe Sound, Florida.
Her hobbies included dogs, with a special liking for retrievers, home interior design, fashion, travel and reluctantly, golf. She played golf in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Portugal, Denmark and throughout the United States and Canada. In 2003, shortly after her transplant surgery and on her birthday, she had a hole-in-one at Jupiter Hills Club in Florida.
She had a special place in her life for Madison, a wonderful Yellow Labrador Retriever, originally acquired by her daughter, Lara. Donna, her husband Andrew, and Lara have all recognized the bond that comes from a relationship with a special dog. Lara’s first husband, Philip Trapolsi, also loved dogs and after passing away from ALS, the family recognized that relationship with a memorial donation to Canine Companions for Independence in his honor.
Donna’s husband, Andrew Conner, donated $175,000 to Dogs4Diabetics (D4D) in order to help the organization take steps to grow and provide more services to persons with diabetes. He and his family felt that this would provide significant support to our community of diabetics to enhance their lives, both physically and emotionally.
D4D has taken the initial steps to further develop its services. The initial step of hiring a second professional trainer has been posted and more activities will follow. Additional actions will be announced over the course of 2014, as D4D’s Board and management initiate more program enhancements.
Dogs4Diabetics appreciates this generous donation that will positively impact its services for years to come.