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Canton’s Clay Hayes (second from right) receives the Kevin Till Memorial Rodeo Scholarship last week. Hayes is the first recipient of the scholarship, which is named in honor of late Trinity Valley Community College Rodeo Team member Kevin Till. Also pictured are (from left) TVCC Rodeo Coach Brent Bratton, and Nicole, Yvonne and Dean Till – parents and sister of Kevin.

This fall will mark two years since Athens student Kevin Till lost his battle with cancer. But his memory lives on.

After Kevin’s death in October, 2009, his parents, Yvonne and Dean Till of Athens, began raising funds to donate to the Trinity Valley Community College Foundation. After a little more than a year of hard work, the couple has raised enough to create an endowed scholarship in their son’s name.

Last week, the first Kevin Till Memorial Rodeo Scholarship was given to Clay Hayes of Canton.

“We could have looked all over the country and not gotten a better choice,” said Till.

Hayes was homeschooled, and earned his high school diploma earlier this year. Like Kevin Till, Hayes will be a member of the TVCC Rodeo team.

During a small ceremony last week, TVCC officials awarded Hayes with his scholarship, and spent some time reminiscing about Kevin.

“This is such an honor. I appreciate it, and I will do whatever I can to make you proud,” said Hayes.

Hayes is no stranger to the pain caused by cancer. He lost his father earlier this year to the disease.

According to Mary Nicholson, TVCC’s executive director of institutional advancement, normally it takes several years for a student to receive an award from an endowed scholarship. The funds donated to the scholarship are placed in an account, and once the fund draws enough interest, scholarships are awarded.

However, said Nicholson, the Tills’ goal was to raise enough capital to fund a scholarship as early as Fall, 2010. They not only earned enough through various fundraisers to completely fund the endowed account, but they also donated an additional $1,000 to give Hayes his award.

“I am personally so proud to have gotten to know the Tills, and to have been a part of this,” said Nicholson.

Although the scholarship fund has enough to begin awarding scholarships, the college is still accepting donations. Those donations will allow the scholarship fund to continue to grow.

Those who are interested in giving to the Kevin Till Memorial Rodeo Scholarship can call the TVCC Office of Institutional Advancement at 903-670-2620, or donations can be mailed to the Trinity Valley Community College Foundation at 100 Cardinal Dr., Athens, TX 75751.

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