Legacy of student lives in scholarship
Classmates of Demarius Cox, a Hillsboro High School student who died unexpectedly from a health issue at a Colorado church camp in June of 2019, are graduating this May. They are seeing his influence in the form of the Demarius Lives scholarship.
“This year would have been the year that Demarius would have been a senior,” teacher Jesse Allen said. “This is his class, you know?”
Watching this year’s seniors graduate will be bittersweet for Demarius’s father, Hillsboro football coach Demetrius Cox.
“Not being able to see him walk with his classmates will be pretty tough,” he said.
The scholarship was created from donations to a fundraiser run in September 2020. It provides financial assistance to any Hillsboro graduate furthering his or her education or working toward a vocation.
It was given to several graduates last year and already has received applicants for this year. The committee that supervises selection — Allen, Janet Whisenhunt, and Demarius’s parents, Demetrius and Ciara Cox — plans to give the scholarship out annually.
Recipients are determined by character and involvement with Hillsboro’s schools and community.
“A lot of the application is geared toward reflecting who Demarius was — his interests, his passion, but also his character,” Allen said.
Applicants going into communication and journalism fields are given preference since those are the areas Demarius wanted to go into.
“Another highlight is that Demarius had problems with hearing, so he had hearing aids,” Allen said. “One of the things that really defined Demarius was his overcoming spirit.”
Demetrius spoke about Demarius’s traits in relation to the scholarship.
“He developed a strong work ethic, a strong character, good time management, and faith,” Demetrius said. “Those were the things that he developed throughout his life. The scholarship was designed to reward kids going off to college who showed those kinds of personality traits.”
Demetrius said Demarius’s faith was particularly strong; he wrote “God is my strength” on his track and basketball shoes.
“He had a smile that would just warm your heart,” Demetrius said. “I don’t think he ever met someone who was a stranger he didn’t think he couldn’t help.”
The scholarship was a way for the Cox family to thank the community for its support after the tragedy.
“There are a lot of things that we try to do to honor him,” Demetrius said. “This is just one of the ways that 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.”