The late Heather Schultz loved not only her own children but the children she taught for many years as a teacher at Ohio County Schools.
“Everyone who knew her was just that radiant light of joy, kindness and happiness,” said Raquel McLeod, the school district’s student services director.
After Schultz died of breast cancer in 2019 at the age of 42, McLeod and other friends and loved ones got together last year to found the Heather Schultz Memorial Scholarship. Now in its second year, the scholarship has been able to expand in multiple ways to help not only prospective students but children in immediate need.
Last year, two $ 500 grants were awarded to Andrew Shelek and Lydia Kellas. McLeod said the scholarship committee is looking for students who had Schultz as a teacher, as well as students who are going to education or any other field that helps children.
“Heather has done so much to help her students and others in need,” McLeod said. “Being able to provide these grants is our way of honoring her and keeping her memory alive. These kids are going to do amazing things to help kids, just like Heather. So it pays off for all of us to be part of it. “
The committee – made up of McLeod, Schultz’s husband Bruce Schultz, Ohio County teacher Suzy Miller, longtime friend Allisha Lash, and Anita Shelek, who joined the group this year – has assembled several fundraisers to support scholarships. T-shirts were sold, some with a superhero theme – “We called her our superhero, our Wonder Woman,” McLeod said – and some with a sunflower theme, her favorite. The school district held “pink-outs,” where people donated to wear pink on a particular day.
The committee also posted a Super Bowl sign and was able to fill two plates to raise money. McLeod said the fundraiser didn’t always need a theme or event. Sometimes people were just willing to help the cause.
“I just said one day that if 100 of my friends gave $ 5 in Heather’s memory, we could sponsor one scholarship,” McLeod said. “And within 24 hours I had that.”
The fundraising has been so successful that the committee will nominate three scholarship winners on May 21. It also helped the family of one of Schultz’s former students. After their mother died, the committee bought them food and clothing.
“We help the future with grants,” said McLeod, “but we also help the here and now when we have a family facing crisis or traumatic event.”
McLeod said the committee wants to expand its fundraising even further by adding a steak when COVID-19 restrictions allow. That the scholarship was able to grow so quickly, McLeod said, is testament to the impact Schultz has made on her students and their families.
“It just goes to show how respected and loved Heather was,” said McLeod. She was real. She was sincere in her love for her students and the children knew it and the parents knew it. By extending this scholarship, it will have a lifelong effect on everyone.
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