SHERIDAN — The sixth annual Matthew Perkins Memorial Scholarship Golf Tournament will be held Saturday at Kendrick Golf Course. The annual event has raised thousands of dollars in recent years to support scholarships for Sheridan High School students wishing to study or travel abroad.
“The first year we did it we had 26 golfers, last year was the fifth year and we had 84 and this year I am expecting close to 100,” event organizer and Perkins’ brother-in-law Jess Hattervig said. “It’s been great. It is just a whole heck of a lot of support from the community. It is good to see it grow like that. There are a lot of great people that come out to support it.”
Matt Perkins, a Sheridan High School student, died in a car accident in October 2007 when he was 16 years old. In the time after his death, his family decided to create a scholarship that would honor his memory by providing positive opportunities for other SHS students. Perkins mother, Jane Perkins, said the idea of supporting international traveling opportunities for local youth was particularly appealing due to her son’s own international travel experience a few months before his accident.
“I suppose it was pretty much immediately after his death,” Perkins said about how the scholarship idea developed. “It started out as a celebration of life and the fact that one of the last things he did, the June before his death, he took the trip with Wyoming Ambassadors of Music (to Europe). That’s how it ended up exclusive to international travel. It was pretty dang expensive, but obviously the trip of a lifetime.”
“I felt for us, as we grieved, that his death would produce something good and so I think it has,” she continued. “He loved life so deeply and he is now spreading that love to the corners of the earth by sending these people. When you think about it, his death has now touched people in all corners of the world. It is a positive thing to be able to hold on to that in time of grieving, because the grieving never stops. It may change, but it never ends.”
Perkins said the scholarship has assisted about 20 students in their travels to South Africa, Australia, Chile, Costa Rica, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and other countries as part of the Wyoming Ambassadors of Music program, high school Spanish classes and other educational programs. In addition, the program has donated money for the LINC program at the high school, to connect incoming freshmen with juniors and seniors. Perkins also said a portion of the money from the golf tournament this year will be donated to the Sheridan Food Group.
Perkins said money from the scholarship is targeted toward students and families who may not have the financial means to participate in an international education program without assistance.
“Some parents said ‘I wouldn’t be able to send my kid if it weren’t for your help’ and those are the ones to make sure we are helping,” Perkins said. “The only criteria we have is that they have to tell us what has been their own fundraising efforts. I want to know they are working for it too.”
Students are also asked to provide a written synopsis and photos of their experience when they return from their trip for the scholarship fund to keep for their records.
“Some are impressed by food choices, some are more impressed by the animals or the way people dress,” Perkins said. “But the one thing they always come back saying is that people are just people no matter where you go and I like that. Because that is the way we are supposed to be. We are supposed to accept each other. We’re all just people and that is part of the goodwill that we are trying to promote (through the scholarship).”
The golf tournament begins at 9 a.m. and golfers can sign up at Kendrick Golf Course through Friday. Entry cost is $60, which includes golf cart rental and lunch. Various prizes are being offered and tournament winners will receive a payout.