When Patricia Griffitt applied for a scholarship through the MSSU Foundation, she wasn’t sure what was available and what she might be qualified to receive.

As it turned out, there was a scholarship tailor-made to her needs.

Griffitt was notified over the summer that she was the 2019 recipient of the Brad Reed Memorial Scholarship. Established in 2013, it is awarded to non-traditional students who are also graduates of Lamar High School.

“I had wanted to go back to school for a long time,” she said. “But I was a mom, had a job, a mortgage and a car payment. It was a struggle. But as my son got older, I decided it was time to go back.”

On Tuesday, Nov. 5, Griffitt found herself in a position to create a personal relationship with Ben Reed, who established the scholarship in honor of his late son. It was just one of many connections established during the annual dinner for scholarship providers and recipients at Missouri Southern.

“It was pretty amazing (to meet him). We talked for quite a bit,” said Griffitt. “He was a great guy … very loving and chose a really good way to honor his son. You can tell they love and miss him a lot.”

This year’s event, held in Young Gymnasium, drew more than 500 attendees, said Chelsea Conley, director of donor relations.

“It’s an opportunity for scholarship representatives and recipients to meet and mingle,” she said. “We encourage them to maintain that relationship throughout the year.”

Reed’s son, Brad, passed away in 2010 after a battle with cancer. Following his son’s death, Reed finally did something his son and grandchildren had long encouraged him to do – write down the many humorous stories he had shared over the years.

The result was “Truth with Stretch Marks,” a self-published book filled with anecdotes ranging from Reed’s own childhood to his role as a grandfather. He had more than a thousand copies of the book printed, selling them for $10 each to help create the endowed scholarship in his son’s name.

“As a father, when your son gets sick and there’s nothing you can do to make it better, you start looking for a way to make sure he’s remembered,” he said. “Our scholarship is small … but if each year we can give $1,200 to one person, we’ve helped that one person.”

Reed said he appreciated the opportunity to speak with Griffitt and get to know her.

“She’s holding down a full-time job, raising a son and her husband is a deputy sheriff,” he said “It was rewarding to be able to meet someone who the scholarship can make a difference for.

“The older I get, the more I’m enthused to see young people going to school to get their education. It opens doors for people. If you don’t have a degree, it makes it more difficult to get the job that you’d like.”