The 19th annual Joel Zucker Memorial Scholarship Fund, which honors a Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run participant remembered by the Silverton community, awarded $29,000 in scholarship funds this year to nine students from the area.
Joel Zucker was a New York resident who died in 1998, at 44 years old, from a brain aneurysm, allegedly caused by untreated high blood pressure, just 36 hours after completing his third Hardrock Hundred.
Individual donations and matching funds are raised each year from runners, would-be runners, volunteers and supporters of the Hardrock Hundred and supplied to students who have graduated from high schools in the Silverton area.
In terms of the amount of funds raised, 2018 was the most successful year so far.
“We raised $36,000 for the fund in the last year,” Andi Kron, the scholarship fund committee chairperson, said. “I initiated the scholarship almost 20 years ago after Joel died. Ten years ago, we struggled to raise $3,000 in a year. It slowly ramped up and just took off this last year.”
Eight continuing-education scholarships, each for $3,000, were awarded to students in college who have received funds in previous years and one $5,000 college scholarship was awarded to a 2018 high school graduate.
Seven students are Silverton High School graduates and two are Lake City High School graduates.
Continuing-education scholarships were awarded eight students:
Gerardo Acosta Jr. of Silverton, after he completed an associates degree in fire science and technology, received funding to earn his nursing certificate at El Paso Community College in El Paso, Texas.Will Custer of Silverton received funding to complete an undergraduate degree in education at Adams State University.Marley Roberts of Silverton received funding to continue her degree in environmental and sustainability studies at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona. She will spend her next semester abroad in Ecuador to become fluent in Spanish.Kayla Zimmerman of Silverton received funding to continue her international studies education at University of Denver, in Denver.Talitha Coombs of Silverton, formerly Gallegos before she married, received funding to continue a degree, after taking a year off, in elementary education at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood.Derrick Zanoni of Silverton received funding to continue his computer science education at Adams State University with hopes to transfer to University of Denver.Hannah deKay of Silverton received funding to continue her biology degree at Regis University in Denver.Megan Levine of Lake City received funding to continue her English degree at Adams State University.The ninth recipient, Miranda Hall of Lake City, was supplied a $5,000 college scholarship after graduating this year to attend Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa.
Zucker visited Silverton to compete in the Hardrock Hundred and spent two weeks training, talking to people in town and petting dogs before the race started each year he ran. According to the Hardrock Hundred website, he described himself as a short, Jewish and stuttering librarian from upstate New York.
Silverton residents, such as Kron, who has lived there since 1992, still remember his quirky, one-of-a-kind personality.
“I was a friend of Joel. He would stay with my husband and me when he was in Silverton and sleep on our floor,” Kron said. “We feel that supporting further education is a good way to keep Joel’s memory alive while giving something back to the communities that support the Hardrock Hundred. During the last 19 years, we have awarded 79 scholarships totaling $113,050.”
Funds are collected and managed by the Community Foundation serving Southwest Colorado, a Durango-based nonprofit.
Tax-deductible contributions can be mailed to: P.O. Box 1673, Durango, CO 81302. Checks should be written to “Community Foundation serving Southwest Colorado” with “Joel Zucker Scholarship” on the memo line.
Donations can also be made online at www.swcommunityfoundation.org.
For more information, email Andi Kron at firstname.lastname@example.org.