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    Posted February 21, 2012 by
    Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Breakthrough Women

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    Jackie O'Reilly's Lottery Raised Millions for the Arts and Education


         If you pull a New York Times search for my mother, Jacqueline O'Reilly in the late 1970s, you will read about an extraordinary strategy that she created in the state of Massachusetts to raise literally hundreds of millions of dollars for the arts and education.
         My mother, who was raised in Belgium and was herself a very talented ballet dancer, had to turn down a scholarship to the Paris Opera Ballet because of the impending outbreak of World War II. She put her own dreams for ballet stardom on hold, until she had her first daughter, Ellen, and her second daughter, Eve, who were summarily pushed onto the stage to have the professional dancing career that my mother wasn't able to have in Europe. I was spared by becoming a pretty decent piano player.
         However, my mother's desire to make a difference in the Arts was just getting started. She got involved in arts activism and got an idea by reading up on the great arts fundraising happening around the world. What she decided was the need to create an arts lottery, you know, that little gambling ticket we've come to take for granted in news stores everywhere. Well, she took it upon herself to become very connected with the major arts institutions in Boston--the Symphony, the Opera and of course the Boston Ballet. She started meeting the politicians and the movers and shakers of state government and--voila the arts lottery got itself brought into being and, as I said, it has raised, literally hundreds of millions of dollars for the arts and education in Massachusetts since it was created by the once little girl from Menin, Belgium, who had to leave her Paris Opera scholarship behind, but who went forward and made a huge contribution to her beloved arts through the Arts Lottery Commission, which she chaired.
         My mother passed away in 2004, but my sisters and I, and the people who remember Jackie O'Reilly of Foxboro Mass can appreciate the love, enthusiasm and cunning that she brought to raising untold fortunes for culture. That was my Mom. We miss her, we love her and we are forever proud of her outstanding legacy in the arts and education.

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