The legacy of students lives on in scholarship
Classmates of Demarius Cox, a Hillsboro High School student who died suddenly of a medical condition at a Colorado church camp in June 2019, are graduating in May. They see his influence in the form of the Demarius Lives Scholarship.
“This year would have been the year Demarius would have been a senior,” said teacher Jesse Allen. “It’s his class, you know?”
Watching this year’s senior graduate will be bittersweet for Demarius’ father, Hillsboro football coach Demetrius Cox.
“Not being able to see him walking with his classmates will be quite difficult,” he said.
The scholarship was created from donations at a fundraiser in September 2020. It provides financial assistance to any Hillsboro graduate pursuing an education or pursuing a vocation.
It was awarded to several graduates last year and has already received applications for this year. The committee overseeing the selection – Allen, Janet Whisenhunt and Demarius’ parents, Demetrius and Ciara Cox – plans to award the scholarship annually.
Recipients are determined by their character and their involvement in the schools and community of Hillsboro.
“A lot of the app is about reflecting who Demarius was — his interests, his passion, but also his character,” Allen said.
Candidates heading into the fields of communication and journalism are preferred because these are the fields in which Demarius wanted to get into.
“Another highlight is that Demarius had hearing issues, so he had hearing aids,” Allen said. “One of the things that really defined Demarius was his spirit of achievement.”
Demetrius spoke about the traits of Demarius in relation to scholarship.
“He developed a strong work ethic, strong character, good time management and faith,” Demetrius said. “These are the things that he developed throughout his life. The scholarship was designed to reward kids going to college who showed those kinds of personality traits.
Demetrius said Demarius’ faith was particularly strong; he wrote “God is my strength” on his track and basketball shoes.
“He had a smile that would warm your heart,” Demetrius said. “I don’t think he ever met anyone who was a stranger he didn’t think he could help.”
The scholarship was a way for the Cox family to thank the community for their support after the tragedy.
“There are a lot of things we try to do to honor him,” Demetrius said. “This is just one of the ways we want to give back to the community. They were important to who he was and they opened the door for us to share stories.