By WVUA 23 Student Reporter Elizabeth Elkin
Saint Mark United Methodist Church Pastor Byron Fair received life-changing news in July 2014 when he was diagnosed with an uncommon type of lymphoma while he was finishing his masters at The University of Alabama.
“Just something sparked,” he said. “And I started looking to see if there were any scholarships available for young adults affected by cancer, and I found that there were very little or they were very specific to a certain degree or concentration or to a particular school.”
That’s when Fair Hope Foundation was born.
“Hope is a guaranteed expectation of something that’ll happen,” he said. “And so being able to do that with young adults saying, ‘You know, you’re just down and out for a little while. What’s your dreams? What’s your desires? What’s your motivation in life? And we’ll help you get to that.’ ”
The foundation chose its first scholarship recipient earlier this year, in cancer survivor Kelsey Hunnicutt. She said the scholarship is the reason she’s able to finish her degree at Shelton State Community College, and that she hopes to own a spa one day.
“It means the world to me,” she said. “And altogether we honestly are so thankful that that I got that opportunity to be receiving a scholarship from them, because if it wasn’t for people like the foundation then I don’t know how I would pay for college.”
Fair said if you ever face cancer, you never face it alone.
“Everyone has an opportunity to encourage somebody,” he said. “So even outside of our foundation, what can you do as an individual (is) reach out to somebody and spread a little hope, because it could change someone’s life forever.”
Hunnicutt said she has a message for other young people facing life-threatening cancer.
“Stay positive and look to the end of the tunnel, ’cause it’s always gonna be, it’s gonna get better,” she said. “It may get worse before it gets better but it always gets better and it’s always, you can always find a positive side of it.”
If you’re interested in volunteering or learning more about the Fair Hope Foundation, visit their website at fairhopefoundation.org.