A Legacy of Animal Advocacy

Carmel family honors their late son’s love for animals through a Personal Foundation.

Facing the loss of a child is every parent’s worst nightmare; Don and Polly Trainor know this reality all too well. On March 21, 2010, their son, Patrick Trainor, drowned after driving his car into a retention pond. He was just 19.

Patrick’s love for animals was no secret to those that knew him. From the age of 14 he regularly volunteered at the Humane Society of Indianapolis, cleaning up after the animals and taking them on walks.

Patrick Trainor

Patrick Trainor’s family chose to memorialize him with a fund that honors his love of animals.

As a junior and senior in high school, he became a mentor to the younger volunteers through a special teen program at the Humane Society. No one was surprised when he chose to attend Purdue University for its pre-veterinary program in 2009; it only made sense that his career would align with his love of animals.

After his death, Patrick’s family reached out to Legacy Fund of Hamilton County with the idea of creating a fund that would honor his memory and everything that he loved, including animals.

“We wanted to do something, a positive thing, in his memory,” says Don. The Trainors opened an endowed Personal Foundation through Legacy Fund, an affiliate of Central Indiana Community Foundation. Their Personal Foundation focuses on four areas the couple feel best memorialize Patrick’s life:

  1. Humane Society of Indianapolis,
  2. Cathedral High School,
  3. Purdue University Veterinary Medicine, and
  4. Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

Don remembers his son as being a fun-loving kid that was very modest. He was the kind of guy that all of the mothers wanted their daughters to marry, Don jokes.

“He’d probably think we were getting carried away and that we were making too big of a deal about it,” says Don in regards to creating Patrick’s memorial fund.

The fund’s intention is to encourage awareness around causes and issues important to Patrick and his family. His parents are just preparing to make their first grant. But even in a trying situation, their emotions are joyful.

“There are times we have sadness about Patrick not being with us, but it’s not when we’re talking about the fund,” says Don. “The fund is all positive. It’s a memorial for him. It’s a way in which the things he cares about will live on and potentially live on past us.”

In addition to the Trainor family, their friends and extended family donate to the fund as well. Polly says her husband is impossible to buy gifts for, so her brother and sister frequently donate to Patrick’s memorial fund instead of buying Don something he doesn’t need.

“[Patrick] gets remembered,” says Don. “It brings him up in a great light. It’s a great vehicle to keep his legacy and memory alive as long as possible.”

The Trainors have already worked with the Humane Society of Indianapolis to rename the teen mentor program “Pat’s Paws Teen ‘Trainor’ Program” and hope their new fund will encourage  more teens to volunteer at the Humane Society of Indianapolis, just as Patrick had for so many years.

Don and Polly hope that Patrick’s five brothers can become the fund advisors in the future and keep the Patrick A. Trainor Memorial Fund active for years to come.

Though Patrick’s life was cut short, his passion for animals continues to impact his family, friends and community. And in a very real and powerful way, Patrick Trainor lives on.

For information on opening a Personal Foundation like Don Steffy, contact Rob MacPherson, Vice President of Philanthropic Services at 317-634-2423 x 509 or at robm@cicf.org.

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