Kaileigh Fryer – A Gen Y Story To Inspire and Motivate Us.

How often do we critique Gen Y for not being more like we are – we being the Baby Boomers? How often do we hold the critique inside us, but fear the direction they are taking their lives? How often do we have those deep and meaningful, all well-intended, conversations with our friends about their decision-making?

Lots of times. And in my professional development workshops,  concerns about the attitudes, behaviour and mindsets of Gen Y are a constant source of discussion and comment with leaders and managers – again usually Baby Boomers.

How little faith we have in these young people we have created? How little ability we have to get out of our own way and see them through their eyes, see what motivates and inspires them? How easily we have forgotten what it was like to be their age? And why do we find it so difficult to understand that the world that we grew up in is not the world they are living in?

Out there are hundreds of Gen Ys doing amazing and inspiring things. I have 3 Gen Y kids who motivate and inspire me every day.They do things differently; they think differently; they have different motivations, but I try and get below the surface of all that because that’s where the richness is.

Only 20 Years of Age, but She’s Left A Legacy.

Kaileigh Fryer is one of those inspiring Gen Y young people. She is no longer with us because she died in a car accident in Sydney twelve months ago now, just short of her 20th birthday. As her parents sorted through her things after her death, they found a journal. She had written a bucket list of 50 things she wanted to do before she died. It had all the usual things in it that you would expect a young person might want to do – sky dive, visit an African Safari, run a marathon, sail the Caribbean.

But it was the rest of her bucket list that inspired and motivated hundreds of people.  She wanted to

    • donate blood,
    • make a difference,
    • be a mentor,
    • open an orphanage,
    • host a fundraiser,
    • adopt a child,
    • have a coffee with an old person and ask them about their life,
    • dance in the rain with someone she loved,
    • inspire someone,
    • host a Christmas dinner for the homeless,
    • plant a tree,

to mention a few.

One of the other things she listed was that she wanted to make a list of 365 things that made her happy and take a photo of them on every day of the year.

So moved were her family when they found Kaileigh’s list that they copied it and gave it out at her funeral. The young people who attended put it on social media and it went viral around the world. A Facebook page  was set up and young people have taken Kaileigh’s bucket list and made it their own. She has inspired so many people – young and old – to live their lives fully, not just for themselves, but for others.

What Kaileigh has also done is challenge the non-believers, those who question the motivations of young people, of the Gen Ys. Her life has ended, but who she was and what motivated her lives on. More than that she has inspired so many other young people to live their lives purposefully and meaningfully.

So this is my call to my Baby Boomer colleagues and friends. Send your children to Kaileigh’s Memorial Facebook page to check it out. Then sit down with your bucket list and review it. What legacy will we leave? Would the world be inspired by reading our bucket list?


  1. Michelle fryer on April 23, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    Thank You so much Maree – it was lively of you to share
    Kaileigh’s story

    • Maree on April 23, 2015 at 1:36 pm

      Michelle, are you Kaleigh’s mum? I read that her sister was Stacey. I really wanted to write this blog. Her story is so wonderful and it has the power to really move people and change their lives. If I could do something to spread it I wanted to. You must be so proud of how her life has had such impact on so many people. As a mother I want to remind you that you created this wonderful person. As mothers we don’t get credit for that too often.

      • Deb on April 23, 2015 at 1:54 pm

        Well said Maree, Michelle did create this wonderful girl. She is loved by many x

        • Maree on April 23, 2015 at 4:38 pm

          Thanks for joining the conversation, Deb, and confirming what I had already believed about Michelle.

  2. Suzanne Wilson on March 17, 2017 at 10:39 am

    Thank you so much Maree I missed this when you wrote soo happy Kaileigh’s little sister Christie shared it again to continue to remind us of her wonderful legacy she left us all to think about our lives. Iam Kaileigh’s Aunt and it is so lovely to her your tribute to her memory, and also the credit you gave to Y Generation, yes a much different world I grow up in, but I found most of them very forward thinking and very interested in the world they live in, I pray that we can leave them the best possible earth we can, but I do really worry about this subject. Thank you Maree

    • Maree Harris, Ph.D. on April 5, 2017 at 9:00 am

      Suzanne, thank you for your comments and so good to hear from you here. Kaleigh’s story was an extraordinary story which moved me very much. I’ve told it many times in my workshops and in the training of people in professional development. I have 3 Gen Y children, who, like Kaleigh, do not fit the stereotype. We need to celebrate those young people and tell their story to the world. She has left a great legacy even though she is no longer here.

  3. Annemaree Smith on March 17, 2017 at 10:56 am

    It was so lovely to read this Kaleigh was a shining light in life her soul and smile would just light up the room. I have being doing things off the bucket list and my daughter does as well and it’s such a positive message to send to younger generations. Seeing Michelle feed the homeless and talking to them was inspiring but that is the wonderful person she is and always has been always helping people . xxx miss all the happy times but all those memories are in our hearts xxx

    • Maree Harris, Ph.D. on April 5, 2017 at 9:06 am

      Annemaree, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this wonderful story. I sense that many people are sharing in Kaleigh’s legacy by doing things on her bucket list. And what a legacy she has left! How many of us will make the impression she has made in her short life, even if we live 3 times as long?

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