• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

A young life taken benefits Young Life

THE THIRD ANNUAL Young Life Woodford County golf scramble at Moss Hill Golf Course June 12 helped raise money for scholarships to the Christian group's camps across the U.S. Group member Jack Paris, who died in an auto accident May 13, was the inspiration. (Photo submitted)

Jack Paris died in an auto accident just two weeks before he was to graduate from Woodford County High School, but his legacy lives for his family, friends and the Christian youth group he loved. "We take it a day at a time. We miss the experience of Jack. He was full of life and we have good moments and bad moments and we're experiencing grief, as you would expect us to," said his mother, Sarah Paris. Jack Paris was an active member of Young Life Woodford County, which was formed three years ago and now has between 25 to 30 members. They hold weekly and monthly meetings and, when time and money permit, members go to Young Life camps across the country. Jack's mother, Sarah, said she and husband Nathan began accepting donations to Young Life Woodford County's general fund after his death because they had helped start the local chapter and the group meant a lot to their son. Then they noticed his friends sharing stories about him through the Twitter handle, #loveBIG. They knew their son wasn't perfect - "he was a teenager," said Sarah - but they hadn't realized how many good things he had done and hadn't told them about. "We heard story after story of kids he was helping. 'Well, how'd you meet Jack?' 'Well, I met him at the Taco Bell because I didn't have dinner and he bought me dinner.' 'I was walking from school on Clifton Road and he would give me a ride.' So we learned of all the people he was touching and so one of the things as a family, when we sat down and talked through all the memories and wanted to make what little positive thing we could come out of all this. We said, 'He was helping people all over town and we had no idea.' So we want to kind of continue that," Paris said. With the help of daughters Abbie, 21, and Olivia, 15, they decided to start a fund to pay for scholarships to Young Life camps, like the one Jack had visited with his father at Carolina Point, N.C. "Nathan and I went to Jordan (Young Life Woodford founder Jordan Branham) and said, 'We want to offer a loveBIG scholarship because of all the things we read ... and that's what we want to name it, and we personally want to offer this one scholarship. Well, from there, people started saying, 'We want to give to the scholarship fund.' It really hasn't been an organized movement ..." Sarah said. She said Branham added Jack's name and called it "Jack's loveBIG Scholarship." At the group's annual golf scramble fundraiser at Moss Hill Golf Course on June 12, a golf cart displayed mementos and memories of Jack. Money was raised for camp scholarships, too, and the Paris family pledged to personally fund one scholarship a year. Knowing something good will come from their son's death, Sarah said, provides some comfort. "Through the mourning process and grieving process, we heard all kinds of stories of the big things he was doing for lots of folks and people that ... you see walking down the street and ... and he would stop and give them rides. It's crazy. So we wanted to make sure that ... we find great joy in being able to continue that through the scholarship," she said. For more information about Young Life Woodford County, call (859) 230-0294, or look the group up on Facebook.

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