Whittell High School student Melissa Petty was named the recipient of the sixth annual Gene Upshaw Scholarship Award at the American Century Championship.
Pro Football Hall of Famer Gene Upshaw was a regular player at the ACC and a part-time resident of North Lake Tahoe. He was known for his honesty, hard-work and attention to the well-bring of the people around him. After his death in 2008, NBC Sports and Edgewood Companies established a scholarship in his name to honor his life, work and connection to Lake Tahoe.
“When Gene passed six years ago, we created this because we wanted to ensure that his legacy lived on,” said Gary Quinn, vice president of programming and owned properties for NBC Sports. “We want people in this community to remember what a great community member and leader Gene was during his career.”
The scholarship is awarded to a high school student who displays characteristics of leadership, community service, and academic excellence and Petty’s essay about her success in the classroom, in sports, faith and goodwill locked in the award.
“I ran around screaming out of thrill and stuff. But this is going to change everything, because it’s going to open opportunities for me that weren’t available for me before,” Petty said when she learned she was awarded the scholarship.
Petty is an honor roll student at Whittell and is involved in community service projects with her church youth group and is a member of the Douglas County 4-H group. Recently, she was selected to attend a leadership camp through the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards. Petty practices dance and joined Whittell’s ski team in her junior year after only skiing three times in her life, but was named “most improved” in her senior year.
Petty plans to attend the University of Nevada, Reno to study science.
Upshaw’s widow, Terri, was at Edgewood on Sunday to present the $5,000 scholarship.
“Gene would be extremely proud to have his named linked to this scholarship. Gene was not about his own accomplishments, rather for lifting up those around him,” she said.
In 2009, Terri created the Gene Upshaw Memorial Fund, which has raised nearly $700,000 for pancreatic cancer research, quality medical treatment and care for cancer patients and their families, sustainability and advancement of medical technology, and funding for research in areas such as traumatic brain injury. The fund supports the Tahoe Forest Health System Foundation, as well as the Gene Upshaw Memorial Tahoe Forest Cancer Center, which opened in 2012, and the Tahoe Institute for Rural Health Research.