Jennifer, Bill, Hayley, and Michaela Petit lived in Cheshire, Connecticut until 2007. Jennifer grew up in the Pittsburgh area, the older of two daughters of a Methodist minister and a nurse. Bill was born and raised in Plainville, a small central-Connecticut town. They met in 1981 when Bill was a medical resident and Jennifer was a nurse at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh.

When they eventually settled in Connecticut, Bill established a private endocrinology practice and became one of the most well-respected doctors in his field. Jennifer worked as co-director of the health center at Cheshire Academy, a private high school, where the students and faculty respected and adored her.

Hayley Elizabeth Petit was born October 15, 1989, and showed the same drive her father had from an early age, combined with her mother’s warmth and compassion. A hard worker like both of her parents, she grew up to be a star student at Miss Porter’s school in Farmington, Connecticut, captain of the basketball and crew teams, and a leader in the community. She created a fund called Hayley’s Hope to help find a cure for multiple sclerosis, with which her mother was diagnosed when Hayley was a young girl. Hayley was accepted early decision to Dartmouth College.

Michaela Rose Petit was born on November 17, 1995, and almost from birth showed a vibrancy and energy that led to her many adventures in cooking, planting flowers with her father, trampoline-jumping, and playing with her sister, her cousins Abby and Andrew, and her many friends. After her sister went off to college, Michaela planned to continue the Hayley’s Hope charity, rechristening it Michaela’s Miracle.

In early July 2007, after Hayley’s high-school graduation, the Petit family took a weeklong family vacation to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where they rode bikes, read, walked the beaches, and enjoyed the summer sun, together.