2015 Little Joe scholarships awarded

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Scholarships honor memory of local boy

Sixteen academic scholarships of $1,000 each have been awarded to graduating seniors from area schools as part of the Little Joe Transplant Trust Fund, according to James LeCompte II, attorney and spokesperson for the fund.

Students selected this year included: Stussy Stephenson, Jordan Fisher, Dillon Hess, Audry Holman, Grace Anne Gouvion, Lane Madison and Kelsey Roney from Cassville High School; Jerod Black from Southwest High School; Kendrick Xiong and Kelly Alvarado from Wheaton High school; Logan Senters and Lydia Alverson from Exeter High School; Shelby Thomas and Katherine Wise from Purdy High School; and Hunter Witt and Hailey Nicole Henry from Monett High School.

LeCompte said the awards are paid directly to the educational institution the student plans to attend, and are divided into two, $500 payments for the first two semesters.

"The money goes toward tuition, books, supplies and whatever the student may need for school," LeCompte said.

The trust fund was originally established from money raised over a period of several years to provide a heart and lung transplant for local child Joe Starchman, also known as Little Joe, who as a teenager died before the transplant could be completed.

LeCompte said the organization was initially set up as a non-profit organization, which allows donations to be tax-deductible, and for awhile, the funds were used to provide expenses for children who needed minor transplants.

"Since the funds weren't going to be utilized for their original purpose, we used them to benefit other children," LeCompte said. "We also made contributions to the Ronald McDonald House in Joplin and Springfield. Then, we decided there might be other things we could do with the money. We went to the IRS to expand or permit the funds to be used for educational scholarships."

LeCompte said the scholarships help motivate students, who might not otherwise make the decision to go to school, to take that step.

"We really believe, if not for the $1,000, that some students would not have made the decision to go on to college or a technical school," he said. "I think there is always going to be a need for scholarships, and as long as there is money available, it is our desire to grant these scholarships because it benefits not only the students and their families, but also the citizens of Barry County because you get better-trained and educated citizens if they return."

According to the fund's Board of Trustees, students must complete an applications, provide transcripts of grades and test scores with their class rankings, and three letters of recommendation. They must also write 500-word essays explaining why they want to go to college and are seeking an education in their chosen fields, along with a financial needs report explaining scholarships, awards or financial aid they they have applied for or have been granted. The board awards approximately 15-16 scholarships each year.

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