Matt Blackwell Foundation presents annual scholarships

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By Jesef Williams

Four local high school students have demonstrated that they have the compassion, dedication and team work to be productive members of society.  

Bobby Bentley reminded them Tuesday night that those three qualities will indeed take them a long way in life. Selflessness is key, he said.

Bentley, the former head football coach at Presbyterian College, was the guest speaker at the eighth annual Matt Blackwell Scholarship Dinner, held at Lancaster Golf Club’s Fairway Room.

Each year, four or five Lancaster County high school seniors are selected to receive a scholarship, which is named after the Lancaster teen who died in 2001 after an auto accident.

This year’s winners are Brooke Adams (Indian Land High School), Laurice Ingram (Lancaster High School), Dwayne Ray (Buford High School) and Emily Stover (Andrew Jackson High School).

Bentley, who previously coached Byrnes High School to four consecutive state football championships, told the four students and everyone else on hand that you must be three things in life – a giver, a competitor and a team player.

He said people shouldn’t be consumed by what has become a selfish society.

“We got too many takers,” Bentley said. “We need more givers.”

Bentley also spoke of the need to find a source of motivation, compete hard all the time and lend a helping held to others facing tough times.

Failure at some point in one’s life is inevitable, he said.

“We may fail, but we got to edify each other,” Bentley said. “You need to encourage others. You’re going to have bad days.”

He closed his speech by leaving the crowd with five more pieces of food for thought:

- There’s no elevator to success in life. Take the stairs.

- Go cheer someone else up.

- Don’t worry about what others think of you. “It’s what I think of myself.”

- Love people more than you do material possessions.

- Know that true happiness comes from wanting what you already have.

Adams, Ray, Ingram and Stover each expressed gratitude for receiving the scholarship and understanding of Bentley’s message.

Stover said the idea of service hit home for her.

“You got to be a team player and a giver,” Stover said. “If the world didn’t have team players, it would not be nice.”

These four students are among 32 total who have received scholarships through the Matt Blackwell Foundation. The scholarship committee looks for applicants with a strong academic record, involvement in extracurricular activities and community service.

Participating in sports is encouraged, as Matt Blackwell played high school baseball, junior golf and church basketball.

Larry Blackwell, Matt’s father, said he’s been impressed with the winners each year. A lot of deserving students applied this time, he said.

“The event went great,” Blackwell said. We’d like to thank the community for continuing to support our cause.”

For more information about the scholarship, visit www.mattblackwellfoundation.org.

Contact reporter Jesef Williams at jwilliams@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 283-1152