For the price of a plate of barbecue, those attending the Kenai Central High School homecoming game Saturday will have a chance to contribute to a scholarship fund in memory of a member of the class of 1988 who died in his senior year.
James Martin was 17 years old when he died, along with 17 others, in a plane crash in Homer in 1987. The next year, JoAnne and Carrol Martin set up the James Martin Memorial Scholarship in their son's memory.
To raise money for the scholarship, the Martins decided to hold a barbecue at the 1988 homecoming game. The event became an annual tradition, and Saturday marks the 17th year the Martins have held the barbecue at homecoming.
The pig to be barbecued is a 4-H raised hog donated by Unocal. The company has donated a hog to the fund-raiser every year, said JoAnne Martin.
Her husband will do the barbecuing, and the Martins will supply the beans, bread and other side dishes, as they do each year, she said.
The price for a plate of barbecue with side dishes is $5, although larger donations are welcome, Martin said.
James Martin was an athlete. In high school, he wrestled and played football. The scholarship given in his memory is designed to reflect his interest in sports.
Candidates for the $500 scholarship must be involved in athletics but need not be players. Team managers, stats keepers, cheerleaders and others who support athletic teams also are eligible.
A candidate also must meet an academic standard and show good character, according to Jon Lillevik, a counselor at KCHS.
Lillevik summoned up the characteristics the school would like to see in a James Martin Memorial Scholarship winner.
"The idea is we're looking for kids that have the same qualities that James did," he said.
The $500 scholarship is renewable each year as the student is performing well academically.
By itself, the annual barbecue doesn't raise enough money to support the scholarship fund. Much of the scholarship funds are donated directly by the Martins.
JoAnne Martin said, although she and her husband may not personally know the students who receive the scholarship, the students' appreciation make the couple's sponsorship worth it.
"One thing I like about it is, without exception, the students have written us a thank-you note," she said.
And some students have done even more. One scholarship recipient sent Martin and her husband a thank-you note accompanied by coffee mugs stamped with his school's logo. The gift was perfect because Martin collects mugs, although she's pretty sure the student didn't know that, she said.
Getting thank yous and the occasional gift is nice, but the Martins started the scholarship and continue to fund it as a way to give back for all the help they received when they needed it.
"It's one way of paying back the community for all their care and concern," Martin said.
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