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'Viking Promise' Scholarship in Murphy's honor to give kindergarten students $100

Melody Brunson | Times Herald

Halle and Emma Miller accept a $100 check for Emma’s college fund, as Barr-Reeve unveiled its plans for the Viking Promise Kendall Murphy Scholarship which will give $100 to each incoming Barr-Reeve kindergarten student starting next fall. The Millers are nieces of Murphy, who was killed in the line of duty as a Montgomery volunteer firefighter on Nov. 10.

MONTGOMERY — A few tears were shed at Barr-Reeve on Tuesday night as the school presented the first of its new “Viking Promise” scholarship in honor of the late Kendall Murphy, a Montgomery volunteer firefighter killed in the line of duty Nov. 10, last year.

Partnering with the Barr-Reeve Scholarship Foundation, the Viking Promise Kendall Murphy Scholarship will give $100 to each incoming Barr-Reeve kindergarten student starting next fall, if that student has a 529 College Savings account.

Murphy, a former student athlete at Barr-Reeve, was coaching the fifth grade boys basketball team when he was killed, and had been a varsity assistant coach as well.

Travis Madison, superintendent of Barr-Reeve, said, “Kendall’s legacy of loving, serving and helping others will live on.”

Murphy’s father, Dwayne Murphy, said, “We knew right away that this plan for what we call a ‘reverse scholarship’ was the right fit. It focuses on the young and getting their parents on board with the future of their kids.”

Kendall Murphy’s niece, Emma Miller, daughter of Eric and Kelsie (Murphy) Miller of Washington, was given the first Promise Scholarship during halftime of the Barr-Reeve home basketball game.

Dwayne Murphy said, “Emma being the first recipient was something I asked Travis (Madison) to do. He said they had already thought of that and that is why they needed to get the ball rolling so soon after his funeral. Kendall loved his nieces and would want nothing but the best for them. He would lay down his life for them and that is what he did. Emma, Halle and Zippy (That’s what we call our future grandson), will forever know who Kendall was and what he did for them.

“Kendall thought a lot about our young kids. He coached them and made a point to let them know how special they were to him. I love hearing how some kids said, after they learned about his accident, that Kendall always talked to them,” Murphy said.

Although seed money for the implementation of the scholarship has already been established — partly with money Kendall himself had repaid the Barr-Reeve Scholarship Fund from his own scholarship in 2009 — planning for annual fund-raisers to keep the scholarships renewable are already under way. A golf scramble is set for May 6 and a 5K running event on June 9 are both being planned for this summer.

Kendall’s mother, Katrina Murphy, said, “I am thrilled Emma will be the first one to receive this scholarship. As hard as this has been, God has shown us He remains in control by all the Godly signs we have seen. And this is one of those signs. We are grateful to the BR Scholarship organization for providing this opportunity, not only for us, but for all future Vikings.”

His parents noted how Kendall and his fiancé had attended a Dave Ramsey financial course at their church, and how being debt free was important to them.

With the help of financial advisors, parents of incoming kindergarten students will get information about creating a 529 College Savings Account for their student, then the $100 will be added to his or her account. Then the account can be added to by others as the student progresses through school.

Madison said, “It is the ultimate goal of The Viking Promise Kendall Murphy Scholarship Program that every student in Barr-Reeve Schools will have a college savings account which can be used for educational-related expenses not only for traditional four-year colleges, but for any accredited post-secondary education, including vocational and trade schools.”

Barr-Reeve Guidance Counselor Chastity Sward, said, “It plants the seed that someone believes in them that they already have a college savings account, planning and preparing for college as a kindergartener. I attended a session where I learned that anyone with $1 to $499 saved is 4.5 more times likely to graduate college. It doesn’t have to be a lot of money to have a profound impact on that student’s ability to plan for the future and the expectations that they have for themselves and that their family has for them.”

Sward also said students with college savings accounts tend to have a higher attendance rate and less discipline problems, and they are seven times more likely to graduate high school.

Wabash County Schools have a similar program in northern Indiana, according to Sward, who added, “With Kendall, it felt like this was a great way to honor his memory.”