Three lives were tragically lost Easter Sunday 2013 on Interstate 77 in Fancy Gap in a 95-vehicle pileup. After witnessing the massive amount of emergency personnel that responded that day, Carroll County Sheriff J.B. Gardner started thinking about ways to help and encourage those dedicated to helping others in times of crisis.
On July 24, Gardner handed out his second yearly installment of scholarships to graduates from Carroll County and Galax high schools thinking about careers in law enforcement and emergency-related fields. That day, Gardner handed out $500 scholarships to 2013 CCHS grads Nikki Tobler, Rebekah Morgan, Austin Horton, Anastasia Stanley, Gunnar Beamer and Thomas Stoneman, and Galax grads Justin Campbell and Malik Robinson. Additionally, Stanley, Horton and Stoneman also received $1,000 scholarships from the Virginia Sheriff’s Institute.
“The three things they have to comply with to be eligible, they have to be either going into the field of law enforcement, fire or EMS. We have given some to folks who want to be firemen, some who want to be paramedics and some that want to be police officers or lawyers. We are helping people who are going to be responding to accidents on the interstate, which kind of makes sense,” Gardner said. “We decided to do this after the big crash on Easter Sunday because there were folks from everywhere that were there. There were folks from Grayson County, Surry County, Patrick and Pulaski. There were people from everywhere that responded.”
Considering that, it is fitting that the funds come from the Sheriff’s Highway Safety Funds. Gardner said he doesn’t personally read the applications for the scholarships. Each year, his office reminds local school systems after Christmas about the program. Students are then informed they can apply for the program and the winners are selected by each individual school system. The names are then given to Gardner.
“I would love to take credit for the idea but it wasn’t mine. It was something somebody brought to me while I was a teacher at the high school,” Gardner said. “I was asked if there was every an opportunity to give out scholarship money, would you be willing to give it out? And the answer is yes.”
Gardner said his office can give up to $5,000 in the scholarship program each year.
Allen Worrell can be reached by calling (276) 728-7311 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN.