A tragic loss for a Berrien County family is being turned into a gift to the community in the form of the David A. Hicks Scholarship for the Arts at the Berrien Community Foundation.
When David Hicks was just 13 years old, his life was forever changed when he was diagnosed with a rare and difficult form of cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma. His right leg was amputated below the knee. He fought hard and beat the cancer and lived the life of a normal teenager at River Valley High School. David loved wrestling, video games, friends, family, and anything related to superheroes.
But, at age 16, the cancer returned full force bringing intense pain. He again fought, bravely and quietly. This time, however, the cancer was too strong and David made the decision to forego further treatment.
This month, at the age of 17, David Hicks lost his battle but family and friends have worked to help his name live on through the David A. Hicks Scholarship for the Arts through the Berrien Community Foundation. The first scholarship will be awarded to a Berrien County graduating senior this year.
“This scholarship just made sense to us,” said David’s brother, Zack East. “David always thought about other people first. He never thought about himself. He was excited to think of being able to give this to someone else…And for us, it is like we get to send him to college.”
David loved the performing arts, whether it was movies, TV, dramas, live theater, theme parks video games or any other type of visual arts. The scholarship will support students in Berrien County who wish to pursue a career in visual, performing or graphic arts. The application is available online at www.berriencommunity.org/scholar.
The outpouring of love and support from the community has been amazing, East said. A Go Fund Me effort provided enough to cover David’s final expenses and to start the scholarship. The hope is to raise additional funds to permanently endow the scholarship to allow the scholarship to be perpetual “and David’s name will always be remembered,” he said.
The family is stopping the Go Fund Me effort and continuing fundraising efforts through the Berrien Community Foundation. Any donations made to the fund at the Foundation are tax deductible.