Revolution coach Brad Knighton, family announce The Olivia Knighton Foundation to honor late daughter

New England Revolution

The Knightons announced the launch of the foundation on their daughter’s 12th birthday and nearly four months after she passed away in a tragic boating accident.

Courtesy/Knighton Family
The Knighton family will honor their late daughter Olivia (right) with the establishment of a new foundation.

After an unimaginable tragedy, former Revolution goalkeeper Brad Knighton and his wife, Britney, wanted to pay tribute to their late daughter, Olivia, whose presence had been such a beacon.

“Her loss has been so difficult because she brought so much joy and light to our life,” said Britney. Olivia was just 11 years old when she was killed in a July boating accident in South Carolina.

“Over the last couple months, we’ve tried to figure out a way to carry on her light, her love, her kindness and her passion,” Brad explained.

On Friday, which would have been Olivia’s 12th birthday, the Knightons are announcing the Olivia Knighton Foundation.

“Everyone handles loss and grief differently,” said Britney. “You can’t even fathom or imagine this happening to you. So when it happened, we didn’t know how we were going to handle this. I think it just kind of came naturally. We kind of embodied who Olivia was and were like, ‘We can’t hide ourselves in a room and cry and mourn her.’ She was such a bright spirit. We need to talk about her and honor her.”

Through it, Brad and Britney intend to make a difference in all the ways they think Olivia would have wanted. For starters, it will mean a holiday toy drive in her name at Walpole’s Rodman Arena. In 2024, they’re aiming to establish a scholarship program at Attleboro High School.

“Finding an individual that mirrors Olivia in some shape or form, we’re going to provide a scholarship to that person for them to be able to further their education in college,” Brad said.

“She just was so passionate about school,” Britney said. “So we feel that being able to help other kids pursue their dreams, to us, that’s the most meaningful thing that we could do to honor our daughter and carry on her legacy and the love we have for her.”

Other ideas and projects for the foundation will take shape, the Knightons said, as a reflection of Olivia’s vibrant personality.

“She played soccer, she played basketball, she did track club at school, she did art club,” Britney said. “She loved art, she loved writing. She had so many friends, and loved her family. Family was the most important thing to her.”

The Knightons said setting up the foundation over the last month has helped them in the grieving process.

“Starting this foundation and talking about her every day and talking about how we’re going to help people has been very therapeutic,” Britney said. “It’s therapeutic for us to know that we’re helping people because I feel like we’re a very giving, loving family. And so doing that by honoring our daughter gives this even more meaning.

“She was always happy and always concerned about everyone around her,” Britney said. “If a friend was sad, or if I was sad, or her brother or Brad were upset, she would make us a card or a bracelet. And she would do the same for her friends. She wouldn’t want us to be mourning her and sad. She would want us to be celebrating her and doing good for others.”

Brad, the head coach of New England’s under-19 academy team, credited the Kraft family and the Revolution organization for their support in the past few months.

A "tifo" made by fans was the inspiration for the logo for the Knighton's foundation.
A “tifo” made by fans was the inspiration for the logo for the Knighton’s foundation.COURTESY/KNIGHTON FAMILY

“Having the support system that we’ve had with regard to the Revolution being behind us 110 percent in anything that we’ve wanted or needed, that’s meant the world to us,” he said. “She loved going to Revs games. She loved playing soccer, she loved watching me play.”

Fittingly, the logo for the foundation was inspired by a tifo — a custom banner created and held aloft by soccer fans prior to games — that was made by Revolution supporters in the team’s first game after Olivia’s death in July. It’s a heart in between a pair of wings.

As they look ahead, the Knightons said they are excited for the foundation to get going. It’s a feeling they haven’t had since before the accident.

“I think excited would be the word, because I think Olivia’s death has obviously been such a traumatic, devastating, sad thing,” said Britney. “And for us to turn this into a positive thing like the foundation — to do good and help others — I think it’s given people hope and it’s turning it into acts of love and kindness rather than focusing on her loss.”