What started out as an idea floating around all of our heads independently, came to fruition a couple of years back during a trip to Jenny Wiley State Park. John and Pat, who first met as classmates at the Air Force Academy, spent an afternoon in the state park, hanging out with one another’s family and catching up on old times. Pat, who is from Huntington, West Virginia, had just purchased a business that has a branch office in Hazard- Service Pump & Supply.
John began telling Pat about an idea he had been thinking of for some time. “I knew one day I would start some sort of a foundation to support a cause I believed in and hoped it would make a difference,” John said. “As time passed, my idea of a foundation transformed to a scholarship. By the time I sat down with Pat, I knew that I wanted to start a $10,000 scholarship for the students of Appalachia. I didn’t really know how to make this happen but felt that Pat could help and it would help him get further plugged into the Hazard community.” Pat’s response was clear. He was in.
John then reached out to his childhood friends, George and Trigg, to see if they would like to be involved. They had both been thinking of similar ideas. When John called they each jumped at the opportunity. “It was perfect timing,” said George. “We all know what the downturn in coal industry has done to the economy back home, and I had been actively thinking about ways I could help. So many people helped me when I was a student growing up in Appalachia and I felt this urge to give back.”
John reached out to his cousin Tammy, a Hazard resident, photographer, and graphic designer. She also came on board and the wheels were officially in motion.
Trigg, an attorney in Lexington, prepared the organizational documents. Tammy created our logo and image. John filed the application for 501(c)(3) status so that we would be recognized as a fully tax-exempt charitable organization by the IRS.
Max Mitchell, a life-long resident of Hazard and Executive Vice-President of 1st Trust Bank, joined soon after and serves the important role of Treasurer of Appalachian Connection.
Tammy suddenly, and very sadly, passed away not long after the project began. Our logo, which represents the fusion of the mountains and the Air Force Academy’s lightning bolts, will forever be a tribute in her honor.
So that’s the story. We are just getting started but with our determination, and a little help, we feel we can build something that can have an important impact on Appalachia. As John said, “We hope one day kids from Hazard to Huntington will be attending college on our scholarship.”