PLAINVILLE - A portion of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail recently completed in Cheshire features Michaela’s Garden, established in memory of state Rep. William Petit’s daughter, and showcases her beloved Four O’Clock flowers.
The “Cheshire gap” in the trail was closed last week as that portion of the multi-state trail was completed. Along the route several rain gardens and flower gardens can be seen.
Among them is Michaela’s Garden, which the Petit Family Foundation planted to honor Michaela’s memory. Petit said that his daughter had a great fondness for Four O’Clock flowers, which are also known as the children’s state flower. The flowers are expected to bloom in mid-July.
The Petit Family Foundation has also planted gardens at Plainville Library, Linden Street School and Walnut Hill Park.
Petit said he was “very pleased” with the addition of Michaela’s Garden to the bike trail. The placement of the garden, he said, is not far from his former home, where he once lived with his late former wife, Jennifer Hawke-Petit and his daughters, Hayley, 17 and Michaela, 11.
“We are very pleased to honor my family’s legacy this way and to have this opportunity to expose children to the state flower,” said Petit. “It’s great to have the only children’s state flower in the country in the midst of this beautiful butterfly garden. We hope that this will be a place that people can pause to rest and reflect.”
The Petit Family Foundation, like Michaela’s garden, was created after Bill Petit lost his wife and daughters in a home invasion. It was created to pay tribute to Petit’s family and to support causes which they cared about.
The Plainville-based non-profit is dedicated to fostering the education of young people, especially young women in the sciences, improving the lives of those affected by chronic illness, and supporting efforts to protect and assist those affected by violence.
When interviewed last year during the 10 year anniversary of the home invasion, Petit said that he often speaks to other survivors of violence and encourages them to “avail themselves of help.”
“Some people like to think that you can just wrap up those feelings and that they eventually go away - but they never go away,” he said. “They will be with you every day for the rest of your life. You will think about it every day. The key is being able to control your reaction to it.”
Thanks to the help and support of friends, Petit was able to overcome his loss to start a new life and help make a difference in the lives of others.
He re-married and has a son, William Petit III, with his wife, Christina Petit.
Petit ran successfully for office in 2016, representing the 22nd General Assembly District which includes Plainville and New Britain.
Through the Petit Family Foundation, which holds an annual road race and an annual golf tournament, Petit was able to award close to a half-million dollars in grants, sponsorships and awards in 2016.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.