Do Better Be Better scholarship at Kickapoo honors Chandler Sweaney

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Springfield, Mo. – Some students at Kickapoo High School have the chance to apply for a scholarship honoring the legacy of graduate Chandler Sweaney.

Sweaney was shot in February. His mom, Shelley Larrick, came up with the motto Do Better Be Better to keep her sons spirit alive. Sweaney played tuba in the band and sang in the choir at Kickapoo.

“He was this athletic kid,” Shelley Larrick said. “But his inner soul which was kind of an old soul what music meant to him I think resonated more for him.” 

Over the course of ten-and-a-half months, Larrick said she didn’t expect life without her son to be so hard.

“If I had to describe the last ten-and-a-half months, it has been a fight or flight mode with the adrenaline of the case,” Larrick said. “There’s also this fire in my soul of my sons memory and who he was so that keeps my adrenaline going. There’s also of course losing a child [which is a] deep hurt you could never describe to anyone unless they’ve been through that.” 

Larrick said she wanted to have something positive come out of the situation. For her, that meant paying it forward.

“It was actually Jim Swafford who own’s Jimms’ Steakhouse, Chandler worked there from age 16 to when he passed,” Larrick said. “Jim actually had the idea to do a scholarship so we did a smaller scholarship to one student.”

The scholarship is for band and choir students. Since Sweaney was a man of many talents, Larrick wanted to extend the scholarship beyond those two groups.

“We’re trying to gather more funds so we can give them a meaningful amount that they can do something whether it’s college, going to vocational school, or learning a trade, or taking a real estate exam,” Larrick said.

Larrick is hoping to extend the scholarship to teachers, as well as other schools.

“One of the criteria is they’ll do an essay or video that says what does do better be better mean to them, how do they apply it in their everyday lives, and how they’ll be using the funds,” Larrick said. “That’s one of the most exciting part is to see what some of their ideas are and spreading that.” 

For Larrick, she’s found some relief in paying it forward. She’s hopeful many will carry on the legacy of do better, be better.

“I try to live by that motto too,” Larrick said. “The interesting thing is do is an action. So I have to take action everyday.” 

Scholarship funds are being raised on gofundme. Larrick said she will close the fundraiser at the end of the year.

Paul Morales, Timothy Johnson, and Rickey Rose had pre-trial hearings in September and October. Larrick is expecting their trial to take place between spring and summer of 2022.

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