The legacy centered on the loss of a son will continue to live on through the students of Paris Junior College, after 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 their son’s tragic loss, Dylan’s 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 discernment, and working hand in hand with founders Ronnie and Vicki, Dylan’s Drivers, the Board reached the difficult decision. They will 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 first-year student or sophomore from Lamar County. The latter 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 excellent 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.
The Ballards recently 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 the 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 Dylan Ballard Endowment gift. 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.