Honoring a Loved One While Helping Out Future Generations
Debbie Jackson was just 5 years old when she was diagnosed with cancer, and she courageously fought through years of remission and recurrence.
When Debbie passed away in 1985 at the age of 24, her parents, Bunny and Wayne Jackson, were confronted with the heartbreak that no parent should face. Yet they turned their tragedy into a helping hand for youth in the community.
In 1986, Debbie’s parents began awarding one lucky high school senior a $500 scholarship in Debbie’s name through their church in Littleton, Columbine United Church, which began a long-lasting family legacy of giving.
Year after year, they honored their daughter’s memory by awarding the scholarship, and in 2005 the Debbie Jackson Memorial Scholarship Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, was created.
Over the years, scholarships have been awarded to more than 45 amazing students, with awards ranging from $500 to $4,000. Today, the foundation awards two $4,000 scholarships to seniors who either reside in Douglas County or attend a Douglas County school.
The sole funding for the scholarships comes from the Debbie Jackson Memorial Scholarship Foundation Golf Tournament, which is held each summer in Douglas County.
Joanna Gezon, Debbie’s sister and the president of the board of directors for the foundation, and Scott Jackson, Debbie’s brother and the tournament director, say they have seen some impressive scholarship applicants over the years.
“We have had a really amazing collection of applications,” Joanna says. “We ask them to submit their transcripts, two letters of recommendation and a summary of all of their extracurricular activities, and we ask them to write an essay that is about overcoming adversity—something that they have experienced in life and how they have overcome it and what they want to do with what they have learned as they go forward.”
These applications are then reviewed by the board of directors, and after careful deliberation and discussion, the seven board members come to a decision that will help two hard-working seniors with their next educational step.
Scott says part of the fun is surprising the students with the award at senior night.
“We try to keep it a secret, but sometimes it gets out,” he explains.
Joanna and Scott say the foundation is one of the largest private scholarship donors in the county, awarding more than $88,000 over the life of the scholarship.
This year, the 13th Annual Debbie Jackson Memorial Scholarship Foundation Golf Tournament will be at Parker’s Black Bear Golf Club on Friday, July 31, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Registration is accepted up to the day of the tournament.
The cost per player is $150. Individual players are welcome because there are always groups looking for an additional player.
For $700, entrepreneurs can sponsor a hole and advertise their company, which also includes a foursome of golf, along with breakfast, lunch and goody bags for each player.
For tournament participants, there also are a silent auction and door prizes to be won. Community donations for the auction or door prizes would be greatly appreciated, and all donations are tax deductible.
If you have a junior who may be interested in applying for the Debbie Jackson Scholarship for next year, the deadline for scholarship submissions is April 1, 2016.
For more information, visit DebbieJackson.org.