The legacy centered on the loss of a son will continue to live on through the students of Paris Junior College, after the Dylan’s Drivers organization ceased operation during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resources endowed a new Dylan Ballard scholarship at PJC.
Lamar County residents are familiar with the safe, confidential ride home program, Dylan’s Drivers, created by local insurance agents Ronnie and Vicki Ballard after the tragic loss of their son, Dylan, in an alcohol related accident in July 2011. Dylan’s Drivers provided over 14,000 rides to area residents to prevent others from experiencing a similar loss of life as the Ballards did.
After much thought, prayer and discernment, and working hand in hand with founders Ronnie and Vicki, the Dylan’s Drivers Board reached the difficult decision to take the organization’s remaining resources to see Dylan’s memory live on through a workforce education endowed scholarship to Paris Junior College.
“Ronnie and Vicki Ballard are so supportive of PJC and our students,” said Dr. Pam Anglin, PJC President. “Through this support they have made a positive impact on so many students by encouraging them to make good choices and be role models for other students.”
This year $2,500 was set aside to award two $1,250 scholarships to Lamar County high school students pursuing a workforce career at PJC. In the future, the Dylan Ballard Endowed Scholarship Fund of $30,000 will provide a $1,500 scholarship annually for a freshman or sophomore from Lamar County who meets the standards set by the College and enrolls in a workforce education program.
“PJC has a multitude of excellent workforce programs where a student can get an associate’s degree or certificate and provide well for his or her family,” said Ronnie Ballard. “Our son attended PJC and enjoyed his time there. We felt, along with the DD’s board this would be an exceptional way to keep Dylan’s passion for others alive.”
“The fact this endowment will continue in perpetuity provides Ronnie and me a great deal of comfort,” Vicki Ballard said.
Recently, the Ballards had an opportunity to meet the first scholarship recipients, PJC students Brailye Fleming and Sydney Hines. Fleming, a graduate of Chisum High School, is currently in the PJC vocational nursing program. Hines graduated from Paris High School and is an allied health major. Both plan to become registered nurses.
“The scholarship means a lot,” Fleming said. “I’ve put a lot of hard work into my school and being rewarded makes me feel good about myself and pushes me to do better.”
“I felt excited, happy and thankful for the scholarship,” said Hines, who is also a member of the PJC cheer squad. “This will help me with room and board.”
Ronnie Ballard told the students to “make good decisions” at the meeting.
“Yes, make good decisions and don’t be stupid when it comes to drinking and driving,” said Vicki Ballard. “All we can do is ask that you do your very best – and change the world. One person can change the world.”
Derald Bulls, now retired Director of Institutional Advancement and Alumni Affairs who worked with the Ballards to create the endowment said, “This gift will create opportunities for student to fulfill their goals and dreams.”
“The Ballard’s have affected the lives of so many of the youth in our community through Dylan’s Drivers and now they are giving them the avenues to do so through the scholarship program at PJC,” said PJC’s new Director of Institutional Advancement/Alumni, Baleigh McCoin.
Contributions by check may be sent to Paris Junior College Memorial Foundation, 2400 Clarksville Street, Paris, TX 75460-6298 and designate the gift to the Dylan Ballard Endowment. Those wishing to use a different payment method or have questions about endowments should contact McCoin at (903) 782-0276 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
PHOTO: The inaugural recipients of the Dylan Ballard Scholarship at PJC were able to meet and thank Vicki and Ronnie Ballard recently for their financial assistance. Shown from left are Dr. Pam Anglin, PJC President; allied health student Sydney Hines; PJC Institutional Advancement/Alumni Director Baleigh McCoin; Vicki and Ronnie Ballard; and vocational nursing student Brailye Fleming.