SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– Two local seniors received a surprise from a local family. They’re the recipients of the “Do Better, Be Better” scholarship.
It’s an award to honor Chandler Sweaney, a Kickapoo graduate who was shot and killed in February of last year. Fourteen months after Sweaney’s death, his mom Shelly Larrick has been through every emotion.
But today, she said she felt something new.
“I think I actually did feel some joy in my heart,” Larrick said. “I’m not sure I’ve had that (feeling) since then.”
That feeling of joy started with making a trip to Kickapoo High School, where Sweaney sang and played tuba.
“One of the few things that really does help with that pain and grief over losing a child is to be able to give back,” Larrick said.
One of the two recipients of the scholarship, Katelyn Penkalski, said she had no idea she’d be getting the scholarship. Penkalski is in choir at Kickapoo, along with the other recipient Anna Riemenschneider.
Both Penkalski and Riemenschneider said Do Better, Be Better is something they’re proud to be a part of.
“Hearing this story of her son, you know, pulls at your heartstrings, and it has to do with music,” Riemenschneider said.
“Do Better, Be Better is something that anyone can apply to anyone of their passions, not just a choir or music related,” Penkalski said. “It’s definitely important that people keep those thoughts in the back of their mind, whether it’s an academic passion or an athlete passion or anything like that.”
For Chandler’s mom Larrick, the scholarship represents a hope that Chandler’s legacy will live on for many years at Kickapoo. Chandler’s mother and father said they will continue giving out scholarships every year.
“I felt Chandler in the parking lot as I was pulling in,” Larrick said. “I got the certificates out and I kind of heard in my ear, ‘Good job mom.'”