Bridget K. Healy, a second-year George Mason University student who had also been a member of the Special Olympics team at the university, died Thursday of a pulmonary thromboembolism at St. Joseph Medical Center.
The Towson resident was 24.
"Bridget Healy was a wonderful young lady and one of the sweetest young adults I've ever had the pleasure of coaching during my 29 years as a Special Olympics coach," said Leo Alonso, who coaches in the Special Olympics program at George Mason in Fairfax, Va.
"I coach 43 kids, and Bridget was a big part of our team. When we got the news Friday, we were all in shock," he said. "Her death has greatly affected us."
Bridget Kathleen Healy, the daughter of a Constellation Energy certified public accountant and a CareFirst accounts manager, was born in Baltimore and raised in Lutherville and Towson.
Always interested in athletics and dance, she played soccer for the Lutherville-Timonium Recreation Council, was a member of the York Manor Swim team for 14 years and participated in the Parkville Recreation Danzations program for 13 years.
Ms. Healy had been an active member of the Discovery Club at the Towson YMCA and the Best Buddies Maryland Program.
She enjoyed working with children and was planning a career working with preschoolers or in day care.
After graduating from Towson High School in 2008, she earned her child care certification from the Single Step Program at the Community College of Baltimore County in 2010, during which time she worked at Play Centers Inc. as a child care assistant.
"Bridget was a student in my program at Community College of Baltimore County and she was definitely the kindest person I've ever known," said Melanie Hood-Wilson, director of the college's Special Population Program.
"There was a purity to her soul and she was very beautiful. Bridget had a quiet intelligence and excelled in our program," said Ms. Hood-Wilson. "She was the calming center of our class and she knew how to help those who were having personal or academic problems. She was a leader who had great humility."
She also had been employed through the Baltimore County Summer Youth Employment Program and had worked at the Maryland Disability Determination Services and in the Towson YMCA's Child Watch Program.
Ms. Healy was in her second year in George Mason University's LIFE Program — Learning Into Future Environment, a post-secondary program for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities who desire a university experience in a supportive academic environment.
"The program helps students in academic development in literature, math and writing. There are 43 in the program," said Heidi J. Graff, director of the LIFE program.
"Bridget was in her second year here, and she was incredibly wonderful. She was the epitome of the George Mason LIFE student," said Dr. Graff. "She was exploring lots of options and had a penchant for child development work and had worked at our center."
Dr. Graff explained that LIFE students live independently on campus but have additional academic support. Students in the program are awarded a certificate at the conclusion of their four-year education.
"She was darn proud to be here," said Dr. Graff, who added that Ms. Healy had recently been selected to receive a Capitol Hill internship, where she would work in a representative's office, answering phones and speaking to constituents among other duties.
Ms. Healy participated in Special Olympics basketball, soccer, and track and field.
"Bridget wasn't the greatest athlete, but she'd give it her all. She always had that sweet smile, and when I asked her to do something, she'd say, 'OK, Coach Leo, I'll give it a try,'" said Mr. Alonso.
Ms. Healy could be outspoken when a situation called for it.
"She was quiet and reserved, but I saw another side to Bridget. On many occasions, I heard her stick up for the younger freshmen if she saw they were being picked on or ridiculed by someone else," said Mr. Alonso.
"She was a highly functional, determined and spirited person," said Jeanne Murray, an aunt who lives in Durham, N.C. "She always had a smile on her face and had a cheerful way at looking at life."
"My personality is very bubbly because I get excited about things. One thing I get excited about is when I get to see my brothers after I haven't seen them for a while," wrote Ms. Healy in an essay for her English class.
Ms. Healy was a communicant of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Roman Catholic Church, 20 E. Ridgely Road, Timonium, where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. Wednesday.
Surviving are her parents, Mike and Anne Healy of Towson; two brothers, Patrick Healy and Timothy Healy, both of Towson; maternal grandfather Bill Leahy of Ocean Pines; and many aunts, uncles and cousins.