On Sunday, June 2 at the Cinnaminson Community Center, the Bob Kenney Scholarship Foundation held its fourth annual award ceremony and gave scholarships to 13 local students. Ed Kenney, Bob Kenney’s son, started the foundation to honor his father after he passed in September 2015.
Through the Bob Kenney Scholarship Foundation, Ed Kenney has been able to positively make an impact on the lives of many students over the course of the last four years. This year, the foundation received more than 50 nominations from almost two dozen schools, however the foundation’s committee decided to select 13 students.
Those award winners include: Julia Adams, Palmyra; Mateus Oliveira, Westampton Tech; Lillian Gyamfi, Westampton Tech; Adya Washington, Westampton Tech; Madeleine Ogden, Cinnaminson; Ja-Quan Paige, Collingswood; Alexander Stockton, Riverside; Deja Harper, Pemberton; Aeryn Gilmore, Westampton Tech; Emily Wojceichowski, Riverside; Brianna Fritz, Riverside; Madison Figiel, Cinnaminson; and Nicole Makin, Burlington City.
“My dad was an amazing man,” said Kenney. “He did so much in the community that one day I asked him, ‘why do you do so much?’ He said to me, ‘if you have the ability to make a difference, it is your obligation to try.’ The foundation is my way to honor my father and to impact the community.”
Kenney’s idea to create a foundation in honor of his father started a few months before his father passed away. The two were beginning to collaborate on a book about Bob Kenney’s life, however, Bob eventually told Ed that perhaps this should be an obituary instead of a book.
“At that point, I think my dad knew that he wasn’t going to be around much longer,” said Kenney. “That’s when I sort of had the idea to create a foundation. My dad initially didn’t want to do it, but eventually gave me his blessing.
“That first year, we were able to collect about $1,800 from his funeral, and we gave out three $500 scholarships,” Kenney continued. ”It was easy to pick which kids received the scholarships because when my dad retired in ’99, he started going to every Riverside High School game. Softball, basketball, football, you name it. Since he was a sports reporter for years, he always kept his book with him so he had his favorites, and we decided to give it to a few of them.”
During the second year of the foundation, Kenney switched to a nomination format that the foundation’s committee, comprised of his siblings and friends, would use to select the deserving students. Kenney also started to raise money through a softball tournament set in August each year. The tournament raised enough money to give out six scholarships that second year and 10 scholarships in the third year.
“I didn’t realize how much community support there would be for something like that,” said Kenney. “From donations, sponsorships, companies and businesses, it’s remarkable the number of people that come out and support it. It’s easy to get people to help fund scholarships at this point, and it’s a testament to how great a person my dad was where these people knew my father. It’s their way of giving back.
“At some point, I would like to raise the amount of the scholarship,” Kenney continued. “We realize that $500 is not going to put you through college, but I think it’s more about the honor of receiving the scholarship based on the type of person you are and the character that you have.”
The Bob Kenney Scholarship Foundation will hold its annual softball fundraiser on Aug. 9 and 10. Participants will be able to register online. For more information, participants can go to the Bob Kenney Scholarship Foundation Facebook page.