From Special Reports

The first two recipients of the Joe Sherwood Memorial Scholarship were announced during an awards ceremony at Arnall Middle School on May 18. They are Kali Patel and Isabel Rios Rodriguez.

Last fall, the Joe Sherwood Memorial Scholarship Fund was established with the Coweta Community Foundation in memory of a young man whose big smile and caring ways touched many lives. Joseph Clay Sherwood was the son of Cindy Sherwood and Mitch and Melinda Sherwood, and Joe passed away on May 7, 2017 at age 23.

His father, Mitch Sherwood, thought of the scholarship fund as a way to honor his son’s memory. Sherwood himself presented the Arnall Middle School students, who were recipients of the school’s Noble Knight Award, with their scholarships.

When Joe was an eighth grader at Arnall Middle School, he and his family were surprised when he was announced as the recipient of the school’s first Noble Knight Award. The school mascot is the knight, and the Noble Knight Award was designed to recognize “a student who has wholeheartedly assisted another in a noble and selfless way.”

One reason Joe won that award, according to his father, is that he had befriended Ryan Carter, a classmate with cerebral palsy. Ryan and Joe had met on the first day of middle school in the sixth grade. “They became fast friends, and Joe treated Ryan like any other student,” Sherwood said. “They went deer hunting together, rode ATVs together, and even rode a Jet Ski together at our lake house. It was through this relationship that the teachers and administration at Arnall decided to award the Noble Knight Award, and Joe was the first recipient.”

After Joe graduated from East Coweta High School, he attended Georgia Southern. Joe suffered from addiction, his father said, noting, “The disease of addiction runs in our family.” Later, Joe passed away following an accidental drug overdose. That passing, however, was not the true Joe, according to his father. He noted that his son was an athlete who enjoyed wrestling, football and lacrosse, and he was also someone who never met a stranger.

Because the Noble Knight Award meant so much to Joe, the Sherwood family decided to present a minimum $1,500 college scholarship each year to the winner of the Noble Knight Award at Arnall Middle School. The funds will be held in trust with the Coweta Community Foundation for the student to receive during his or her senior year of high school as they prepare to continue their education at a technical college or university.

At the awards ceremony, two Noble Knight Award winners were named this year, so Kali Patel and Isabel Rios Rodriguez each received a $1,000 scholarship. “I am very proud of Kali and Isabel for winning the Noble Knight Award and am honored to present them with the first Joe Sherwood Memorial Scholarship,” Sherwood said. “They honor Joe by their actions and helping fellow students in a noble and selfless way.”

Also on hand for the ceremony was Joe’s friend Ryan Carter, and he spoke to the youth using a voice system he operated with his eyes. His remarks were “truly inspirational,” Sherwood said, noting that Ryan received a standing ovation.

“We are so pleased to see the Sherwood family get to present these first scholarships in memory of Joe,” said Coweta Community Foundation Board Chair Will Conoly. “It’s a great way to honor the memory of a young man who clearly touched a lot of lives.”

For more information about the scholarship fund, please contact the Coweta Community Foundation at 770-253-1833 or email info@cowetafoundation.org.

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Photo Cutline:  Following the awards ceremony where the first two Joe Sherwood Memorial Scholarships were presented are, from left, Mitch Sherwood, Ryan Carter, and scholarship recipients Kali Patel and Isabel Rios Rodriguez.