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Southern Tier Tuesdays: Kenzee Jean Wheeler Memorial Scholarship awarded $2,000 grant

This is a recurring recording of WBNG's noon newscast.
Published: Apr. 26, 2022 at 3:45 PM EDT
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(WBNG) -- The Kenzee Jean Wheeler Memorial Scholarship is this week’s winner of a $2,000 grant from Upstate Shredding through Southern Tier Tuesdays.

Kenzee Jean Wheeler was a loving 4-year-old whose life was tragically cut short in a motor vehicle accident in 2012. In memory of Kenzee’s generous heart, a memorial scholarship has been established to benefit college-bound students in Broome County.

Founder and grandmother to Kenzee, Iva Jean Tennant said she started this memorial scholarship to make a difference.

“I longed to do something for her memory and I said I can’t do something just for her memory it has to be more than that,” Tennant said. “It has to be something where we’re going to make a difference and we’re going to impact the lives of others.”

Tennant said the goal is to spread awareness of motor vehicle safety.

“I decided we’ll do a scholarship, but I didn’t want to just give out the money, and I didn’t want them to write an essay I know what it means to be safe,” Tennant said. “I came up with a motto which says Kenzee says ‘be safe, “S” secure everyone, “A” be aware of passengers and surroundings, “F” fix potential problems and “E” engage in safe driving practices.’”

Tennant said scholarship applicants must use the motto, SAFE, in a creative project.

“I decided they would use the motto in some way to make a project where they would raise awareness of child safety in motor vehicles hoping to prevent future tragedies,” Tennant said. “If I could save one family from going through the devastation that our family has gone through this whole thing would be worth it.”

Over the past seven years, Tennant said $36,750 has been awarded to 48 college-bound seniors across Broome County.

“2014 was the first scholarship because it took us a while to raise some money and the projects have been amazing over the years,” Tennant said.

Tennant said projects include videos, posters, songs, sketches, and brochures.

“The projects are judged on their presentation, originality, creativity and the power of the message,” Tennant said.

She said she collects cans, bottles, and monetary donations for the Kenzee Jean Wheeler Memorial Scholarship. This grant money will allow Tennant to be able to increase the number of scholarship awards by 50%.

“I want to turn this tragedy into a blessing and we want to make beauty out of ashes,” Tennant said.

There are 23 applicants for this year’s scholarships. The winners will be announced in June.

To donate or for more information about the Kenzee Jean Wheeler Memorial Scholarship contact Iva Jean Tennant on Facebook or by email at tennantij@aol.com

Southern Tier Tuesdays is a philanthropic endeavor of Adam Weitsman, owner of Upstate Shredding, and his daughter, Clover. For more information or to nominate a Southern Tier non-profit go to southerntiertuesdays.com.