Sixteen years ago, Bunny and Wayne Jackson laid their daughter Debbie, 24, to rest, after a courageous battle with cancer. The couple created the Debbie Jackson Memorial Scholarship Foundation, and since their daughter's death, have bestowed scholarship money to four students in the Douglas County School District each year.
Some of the biggest supporters of their efforts were the Pridemore brothers — Darrell, Vince, Al and Dwight.
In 2016, the Pridemore brothers laid their brother Darrell to rest, after he too succumbed to the devastating disease. The brothers own and operate Pride Auto Care Shops in the south metro area, and Darrell, a Parker resident, was well known in the community.
The tragic passings created an opportunity that will allow both of their legacies to live on. The two families joined forces to create the Debbie Jackson and Darrell Pridemore Scholarship Foundation, which recognizes students with annual scholarships.
Debbie's sister, Joanna Gezon, has known the Pridemore family for years, and said joining forces is a great way to keep both memories alive.
“Debbie was just a really good-hearted person, and a strong fighter,” said Gezon, president of the foundation. “The Pridemore brothers have always been a supporter of our foundation prior to Darrell passing. Because of the challenges my sister and Darrell faced throughout their lives, we choose students who have overcome challenges themselves.”
Gezon said they receive dozens of essays applying for the scholarship each year, and it's difficult to narrow them down to four.
“We've had students who have come back from personal injuries, some whose best friends have committed suicide, dealt with alcoholism or drug addiction in their family,” said Gezon. “I cry every time we have to review the essays.”
Mountain Vista senior Jillian Laplante, and Douglas County High School seniors Barbara Edwards and Kelsie Muscat were this year's recipients. After Darrell's death, board members unanimously agreed that his daughter Mallory Pridemore, was deserving of the scholarship in 2016, and extended it for four years.
Al Pridemore said teaming up with the Jacksons has been an incredible experience, and recognizes the irony of the two families coming together.
“Scott Jackson was a good customer of ours, and he and I and Darrell became good buddies,” said Pridemore. “We sponsored their golf tournament when his sister passed away, so it was a natural fit when he approached us about combining resources.”
The foundation raises money for scholarships through the annual charity golf tournament, held at the Plum Creek Golf Club in Castle Rock.
This year's tournament is Friday, July 27. To register for the tournament, visit www.debbiejackson.org/.
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