Scholarship program honors those who defeat adversity

By the Advocate Editorial Board
May 23, 2011 at 12:23 a.m.

We salute the "Beat the Odds" Memorial Scholarship Program - its recipients and founders.

The program now includes scholarships for graduating seniors, as well as the Middle School Incentive Scholarship Program. These students have truly beaten the odds. They have had a parent, or both parents, die, or their parents were incarcerated, they have come from abusive environments, or have been in and out of foster homes. But these individuals have overcome these adverse obstacles to emerge successful.

Gary and Mary Steele Cox founded the "Beat the Odds" Memorial Scholarship Program in 1997 in memory of their son, Justin Forrest Cox.

"Justin adored the underdog. He had admiration for people who overcame adversity," said Mary Steele Cox. She added that Justin's peers commented that Justin always encouraged people to finish, to push till the job was done.

When she returned home after Justin was killed in an accident, she said she knew the "Beat the Odds" program was perfect to remember his legacy and to help students at the same time. The donations from the funeral became the first money for that program, which was an idea that came from Making the Grade's five year plan.

"That became the corpus of the endowment. We gave $1,000 that first year - one scholarship," she said.

In 1998, the first recipient was Adonia Ley, who had nine different foster parents.

Now, the program has grown. In addition to the graduating senior scholarships, there are 17 incentive scholars. "Next year, we should have 20," Cox said.

We praise the Cox family, the counselors and people who make "Beat the Odds" what it is today. To see the recipients and those past students who received a scholarship is truly an emotional experience. Cox said the program has grown full turn, now, with scholarship recipients returning to speak at the awards ceremony to encourage new recipients.

One of those successful college graduates told this year's top senior scholarship winner - Ebb Garrett - "I want to see you where I'm standing in four years."

Last year, Cox told the audience that scripture assures us God brings some good. She had read those words when Justin died in 2007.

"That was my prayer. I am stunned at how powerfully He answered that prayer. Every year I think it can't get any better, but it does," she said.

The good comes to the founders, the students and the community. We thank you for such an inspirational, successful and positive program.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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