The Cameron Fitzwater Memorial Scholarship has awarded four $1,000 scholarships to Tyler Blevins, Maizy Landreth, Joseph Shaver and Michael Sparta of Pulaski County High School.
In accepting the scholarships, the recipients reflected on Fitzwater’s contributions to the community and the school, and in the lives of the recipients themselves.
Blevins, who will be attending Hampden-Sydney College, writes, “It was a tremendous honor to be awarded the Cameron Fitzwater Memorial Scholarship. Cameron was well known throughout this community for his attitude and how he challenged life’s endeavors with a smile and a positive mindset. I was fortunate enough to know Cameron through Young Life and high school. I really appreciate being awarded this scholarship. This scholarship helps me in paying for my education at Hampden-Sydney College. I am truly grateful that I was a recipient of this scholarship, and I hope to always be positive in my life as Cameron was each day.”
Landreth will be attending Concord College, and writes, “Ever since the beginning of senior year, my main goal has been to be selected to receive the Cameron Fitzwater Memorial Scholarship. Not only is it $1,000 for college, but its meaning is so much deeper than that to me. Cameron was someone who, like I, was driven by the happiness of others. Throughout school, I found myself in the same activities as Cam, and realized the real purpose of this scholarship: to teach students how it feels to love and care like Cameron. Little things I would find myself doing reminded me of why God placed Cameron on earth. His kind and tender soul was not only a light to his peers, but a permanent brand on the hearts and minds around him. Winning this scholarship is one of the greatest treasures. I will always continue to strive to be at least half of the outstanding individual that Cameron was and to love selflessly as he did.”
In addition, Shaver, attending Radford University this fall, writes, “Cameron was one of the older scouts when I first joined Troop 249, but he was always nice to everyone and very enthusiastic about scouting. He set the example for us. It means a lot to me, not just because I won the scholarship, but because if it hadn’t been for him, I wouldn’t be where I am today. He helped me learn to swim, but more importantly, he taught me what a real leader is, and I’ll never forget it.”
Sparta, who will be attending New River Community College for one year then transferring to Radford University, wrote, “The Cameron Fitzwater Memorial Scholarship means everything to me. I wanted to be one of the winners of the scholarship so I could honor Cameron. When I heard my name called as one of the winners of the scholarship, I immediately felt a sensation of warmth and gratitude. This scholarship meant the most to me. I met Cameron for the first time in scouts. He was this massive human being of loving energy. I knew that he would go places from the first time I met him. With his love, he was able to inspire people to do great performances in life. I plan on going into the medical field, and with the help of this scholarship, it’ll ease the load of debt for me. This scholarship allows me to achieve my dream of entering the medical field.”
The Cameron Fitzwater Memorial Scholarship was created to celebrate the life of Cameron Taylor Fitzwater by allowing his life and dreams to live on by helping others pursue their dreams of higher education.
The scholarship awards four $1,000 scholarships to selected applicants from each Pulaski County High School graduating class who have been accepted into a two- or four-year college, university or technical school. The applicants must have participated in one or more of the activities to which Cameron was dedicated and in which he was involved: Boy Scouts, choir, drama, MACC academic team, track, wrestling and/or Young Life. A committee of PCHS administrators, teachers and staff select the scholarship recipients. Scholarships totaling $16,000 have been awarded to date.
The money raised to fund the scholarships is a result of the PCHS Drama Department’s annual One-Act Festival, FCLA’s annual luncheon fundraiser and “Color Me Cameron” annual 5K Color Run/Walk.
This year’s “Color Me Cameron” brought 773 runners/walkers and 91 volunteers to Pulaski on April 4 from Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, The Federated States of Micronesia Virginia, and West Virginia. A total of $26,138.59 was raised.
Donations covered the $7,897.02 costs incurred, allowing all $18,241.57 participants’ registration fees and donations to go directly to the scholarship fund. The Cameron Fitzwater Memorial Scholarship has zero administrative costs. The money raised has been put in a five-year term CD earning 2.0% interest until enough money is raised to start a trust fund.
To learn more about the scholarship, email Terri Fitzwater Palmore at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On a rainy afternoon on April 4, 2012, Fitzwater headed to work at Panera Bread after school as he had done so many times before. Known for living his life to its fullest, Fitzwater died in a single-vehicle car accident. He was 18 years old, two months shy of graduation with plans to attend the University of West Virginia in the fall.
Fitzwater was extremely active in school and in the community. He was captain of the wrestling team, captain of the math MACC academic team, and participated in track, drama, choir, Young Life and Boy Scouts, where he was an accomplished Eagle Scout. In addition to attending Pulaski County High School, he also attended the Southwest Virginia Governor’s School for Math and Science.
Fitzwater loved his town and volunteered as often as he could. He grew up volunteering with the local Habitat for Humanity, helping in the office, fundraising and with the construction of Habitat houses. He volunteered cutting fallen trees and removing the debris from the roadways the night the tornado hit Pulaski in 2011. He continued his volunteer efforts with Samaritan’s Purse in the days following. As a Boy Scout, he was involved in numerous service projects throughout the community: Camp Powhatan and Camp Ottari Boy Scout camps. Wherever he could help, he was there.
Fitzwater found peace in the outdoors. He loved kayaking, rock climbing, repelling, hiking, camping, swimming and hunting. He enjoyed reading. He believed that the more you read, the more you learned, and he liked learning about different things. He was a very inquisitive young man. The best way to describe Fitzwater is to say “God took all the crayons in the world and scribbled him inside and out.”
Friends, teachers and community leaders describe Fitzwater with superlatives: Talented, gifted, full of personality, a natural leader, a fine young man, one of a kind, a good friend that was always there to listen, a shoulder to lean on, he had a smile that would light up a room, and he brought color to a gray world.
Fitzwater touched so many lives in his short time on Earth, and he continues to touch lives today though the good works he left behind and the legacy he left in the hearts and memories of all who knew him. He is remembered for his adventurous spirit, his sense of humor, his ability to make any situation a good one and his contagious smile. He inspired others to follow Christ, appreciate nature, live big, dream big, embrace your fears and to never give up.
Fitzwater once wrote: “Kindle the fire within yourself. Use its light to stay the path. No matter how hard it gets, stay ever cheerful.” This is how he lived his life each day.