Family and friends of a Wapakoneta teenager who died after a seven-year battle with brain cancer have established a memorial scholarship fund in his honor.
In their first efforts to raise money for the scholarships, which they plan to present to Jason Strauser’s classmates upon graduation next spring, a golf outing was held last weekend.
The idea for the Jason Strauser Memorial Scholarship Fund came from Erin Fisher, who graduated from Wapakoneta High School this year.
Growing up alongside Jason as his mom babysat her and now working at Prairie View Golf Club, near Waynesfield, Fisher said she saw other organizations raising money through golf outings and thought they should try to have one themselves.
“Jason was a really good person,” Fisher said. “He was always giving to others.
“I wanted to find a way to give back to everybody the way he did,” she said. “I knew that this was something he would have liked to do, to be able to give back to other kids he would have graduated with.”
Fisher said when she thought about a fundraiser, she thought about doing a scholarship right away.
“It would have been something he would have appreciated and approved of,” said Jason’s mom, Judy Strauser.
“We all know how valuable scholarships can be,” she said.
Strauser said starting with the $10,000 raised through Saturday’s golf outing they are planning on offering multiple scholarships to his friends and members of the Class of 2012.
Giving an example of how at Christmas time Jason slipped $20 bills into the lockers of Arby’s coworkers that he felt could use the extra cash, Strauser said her son was a generous person.
They are planning on making the golf outing an annual event, to be held the second Saturday every August, to continue to help youth in the community in Jason’s name.
Next year the golf outing is planned to begin at 8 a.m. Aug. 11 and extend into the day with afternoon slots as needed, with the assistance of the golf course’s owners, Gary and Doug Spencer, who are helping with planning efforts.
“We had no idea this was going to be such a success,” Strauser said. “We were so surprised and so thankful.”
One hundred golfers signed up for 25 teams in addition to more than 25 family members and friends who don’t golf but came out to support the event. Several monetary donations, as well as items to be raffled and auctioned, also came in from those who couldn’t attend the outing. Dozens of cookies were donated as refreshments.
Throughout the day, 50 door prizes were given away as well as prizes for certain holes and holes in one. Additional money was made with auctions of larger items such as a 38-inch custom fabricated Ohio State University fire ring, a 42-inch plasma T.V., and signed items donated by Jason’s favorite team, the Columbus Blue Jackets and including limited editions and certificates of guaranteed authenticity.
Strauser said they are considering holding other fundraisers but haven’t decided on anything official yet, other than the golf outing being an annual event.
Still unsure the number of scholarships they expect to give in the memorial fund’s first year, Strauser said they plan to sit down together as a family and discuss guidelines, which are expected to include need.
She said it would be nice to continue to follow those same recipients throughout their years of college with renewable scholarships and then start over with the scholarship going to new students.
“We really just want to help his friends,” Strauser said.
“I always feel like something good has to come out of this horrible thing,” she said. “It just has to. I’m not going to sit at home and do nothing.”
Strauser said since Jason, who was 17, died May 30, she has continued to work to find projects and ways to stay involved and keep helping others. Assisting her with the efforts have been her husband, Rick, three daughters and their husbands, and five grandchildren.
In the months since his passing, the family has celebrated angelversaries and other occasions, such as Jason’s 17th and a half birthday, with fun activities.
“What we’re trying to do is celebrate his life,” Strauser said.