Over the past 16 years, the foundation has awarded over 475 scholarships totaling $792,000. (Photo: MGNOnline)

The MaryEllen Locher Scholarship Foundation recently awarded 17 college scholarships for the upcoming academic year to Chattanooga area students.

The foundation is a college scholarship program for children who have either lost a parent to breast cancer or have a parent who is a breast cancer survivor to help ease the financial and emotional burdens faced by families dealing with the disease.

Over the past 16 years, the foundation has awarded over 475 scholarships totaling $792,000.

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The organization was founded in 2002 by MaryEllen Locher, a well known WTVC news anchor and health reporter. She started the foundation because she was worried about the future of her own son.

Locher died of breast cancer in 2005 after her third bout with cancer. Her son, Alex Bird, now serves as executive director of his mother’s foundation.

“On behalf of my mother, our family, and the board of directors, the MaryEllen Locher Scholarship Foundation is honored to provide these exceptional students with assistance in pursuing their educational goals,’’ Burd said. “It’s a blessing and privilege to contribute to their bright futures.’’

This year’s winners are:

  • Emma Beach, Central High School graduate, attending the University of Tennessee at Knoxville
  • Destinee Beyer, Walker Valley High School graduate, attending Lee University, Volley for a Cure Scholarship
  • Bayley Bishop, Bradley County Virtual School graduate, attending Lee University
  • Callie Bishop, Bradley County Virtual School graduate, attending Cleveland State Community College
  • Anna Cate, Signal Mountain High School graduate, attending UTK
  • Joy Green, Signal Mountain High graduate, attending Appalachian State University
  • Hannah Holbrook, Soddy-Daisy High School graduate, attending the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
  • Karis Kelly, Gilmer High School graduate, attending the University of Georgia, Wanda Weller Scholarship
  • Luke McDonald, Walker Valley High graduate, attending Belmont University
  • Samuel McDonald, Walker Valley High graduate, attending Sewanee: The University of the South
  • Damon Miller, homeschool graduate, attending UTC
  • Jason Roth, Signal Mountain High School graduate, attending Virginia Tech
  • Lindsay Rufolo, Girls Preparatory School graduate, attending Davidson College, Rock City Scholarship
  • Olivia Samples, Chattanooga Christian School graduate, attending Samford University
  • Katie Shields, Silverdale Baptist Academy graduate, attending UTC
  • Michael Signiski, Notre Dame High School graduate, attending UTC
  • EmiLee White, Sale Creek High School graduate, attending UTK
  • Funds for the foundation are raised through special events, individual donations, corporate sponsorships and private grants.

The foundation also sponsors Mel’s Club, a breast health awareness and education program for teen girls.

Topics covered include myths and misconceptions about breast cancer, prevention and detection of the disease, how to do a breast self-exam and students will also hear from a survivor of breast cancer.

Presentations are available for schools, churches, civic organizations and clubs.

For more information about the MaryEllen Locher Scholarship Foundation or to schedule a Mel’s Club’s presentation, contact Cindy Pare at (423) 490-4555 or [email protected]

There’s also more information online and on Facebook.

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