08/14/08 — MOC scholarship fund to honor Reece Richardson

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MOC scholarship fund to honor Reece Richardson

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 14, 2008 1:47 PM

MOUNT OLIVE — Reece Richardson played his first soccer game of the 2007 season in the Jamboree at Mount Olive College and what would be his last soccer game there months later.

On Jan. 21, the 17-year-old Kenly youth died after a head-on collision that also claimed the life of a classmate, 16-year-old Nick Creech. Both were juniors at North Johnston High School.

The tragedy has sparked a scholarship fund at the college in Richardon’s name. It is, in part, a way for his family to heal.

Father Rickey Richardson called the family a close one, describing his relationship with his son as that of best friends who did everything together.

Reece, he said, was a typical teen in many respects. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, playing soccer and hanging out with friends. He was also an honor student and a Christian, actively involved in his church, Kenly Free Will Baptist, where he had eight years of perfect attendance.

But it was his avid appreciation for soccer that many noticed. A standout at his high school, even when he played away games, the family would still make a way to attend a church in that area.

The teen was also a black belt in karate, something few knew, his dad said, because “Reece was not a fighter, but rather a peacemaker.”

“Reece was an encourager and wise beyond his years,” Richardson said. “He always answered a question with a question, something he had learned from my dad. It was a practice that helped his friends solve their own problems.”

Nothing could have prepared the father, however, for the abrupt and painful loss of his only son.

“When you lose a child, it is like losing an arm or a leg,” he said. “In our case, we lost a part of our heart. We have been so blessed to have a child like Reece in our care for 17 years (but) he belongs to God and always had. If we had the choice to have Reece in our life for these short 17 years, even knowing what we now know about the agony of losing a child, we would gladly do it again.”

Now, Richardson says the hope is that Reece’s legacy can continue, especially through the youth’s example of faith.

The family, which also includes mom Becky and sister Rebecca, has chosen to translate its grief into a gift to others, establishing a scholarship fund at Mount Olive College.

Since Reece had also

considered MOC one of his future college choices, perhaps playing soccer there, it made sense. Plus, Richardson said, his own father was an avid supporter of the college and had admired its small environment and character.

“MOC provides a safe environment for students to seek a Christian education without being persecuted by the secular world,” he said. “We derive a great amount of satisfaction knowing the scholarship fund will help a student get a Christian education in a fine school.”

Paying tribute to Reece’s athletic ability, the scholarship is aimed to help a financially deserving student athlete from North Johnston High School attend MOC. But in contrast, the Richardson family stipulates, the recipient need not be a “superstar” athlete, just one who has tried sports for at least one season, boy or girl.

While his own son will not have that opportunity, Richardson said he would like to think Reece would approve of the gesture.

“Reece would like this because he was a team player,” he said. “He loved for everyone that wanted to play a sport to play, regardless of their skills or social status.

“By establishing this scholarship we want Reece’s life story to be an encouragement to other young people to enjoy life within the context of God’s commands.”

To assist in funding the Reece Richardson Endowed Scholarship Fund, an annual softball tournament, dubbed “The Reecey Cup,” was launched earlier this year in Kenly. In February, teams from all across eastern North Carolina participated in the first event.

Because the two-day tournament included Sunday games, Richardson said, a Christian tent service was set up for all players and their families.

Just as his son would have wanted.