BELPRE - Two years after the death of a Belpre teen, her family and friends have awarded the first of many scholarships in her name.
"We are very, very excited to have been able to give these two scholarships," said Heather Glass, co-director of the Emily Spencer Memorial Foundation.
Belpre High School seniors Claudia Hall and Jacob Logue were chosen as the first to receive the two $500 scholarships. Both plan to attend Ohio University, with Hall studying international law and Logue working on a degree in mechanical engineering.
The Emily Spencer Memorial Foundation has awarded the first of many scholarships. Spencer, who died in 2010 would have graduated this year.
"They both are involved in extracurricular activities and volunteer with nonprofits," Glass said. "It was very important to us that those who receive these scholarships give back to the community in some way."
The foundation was created in early 2011 following the Dec. 22, 2010, death of Emily Spencer, 16, after being on life support for three days at Camden Clark Medical Center, St. Joseph's Campus. The sophomore at Belpre High School had been treated at the hospital after she suffered a suspected heart attack in her home while getting ready for school.
"We had always planned to make the scholarships available to Emily's classmates first," said Glass, Spencer's cousin. "It is a bittersweet time as we remember Emily and how she would be graduating but it gives us great joy to know that we are helping change lives in her memory."
The foundation's mission is two-fold: to save lives and change lives. It has worked to save lives by donating automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) to schools, churches and social groups to be used in the event of a cardiac emergency.
The foundation is changing lives through the scholarships, grants and/or financial assistance to students.
"We gave out two AEDs last year and plan to give out two more this year," Glass said.
The funds for the defibrillators and scholarships come from fundraising events and donations. One of those events is the annual Emily Spencer 5K with others being a breakfast at Applebee's and an upcoming Gospel Reunion Choir benefit concert at 7 p.m. June 21 at South Parkersburg Baptist Church. All proceeds from the concert will go toward the Emily Spencer Memorial Foundation.
"We started this foundation as a way to keep Emily with us and her memory alive and vibrant and I think we have done that," Glass said. "We have been able to do great things."
For more information on the foundation and scholarship fund as well as how to donate, visit the organization's website at www.emilyspencermemorialfoundation.org.