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Students raise money in mentor’s name

High school students raised money in honor of a dearly missed mentor and presented a check to that mentor’s cherished organization on Thursday.

Lakeland High School’s Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps raised $200 through a 5K Color Run held at Sleepy Hole Park on Oct. 28.

About 15 runners navigated a Halloween-themed path with AFJROTC cadets tossing powder and brightly-colored paint, according to Lakeland High School AFJROTC cadet Alana Moore, who pitched the idea after previous fundraising runs had small turnouts.

“It was definitely more successful than previous runs,” Moore said. “I wish we had an even better turnout, but I think it was successful.”

The race was held in memory of Master Sgt. Selwyn Curtis, a U.S. Air Force veteran and JROTC instructor at the school who died from cancer in August 2016 at age 64.

On Thursday, the school’s AFJROTC instructors and cadets presented a $200 check to members of the National Association of Buffalo Soldiers and Troopers Motorcycle Club. Curtis was a charter member of the Hampton Roads Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club.

Club members feed the homeless, ride in support of organizations such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and award scholarships for graduating high school seniors. Hampton Roads Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club President Terry Witherspoon said the money will be put towards a new scholarship specifically for Lakeland High School students.

“This particular one will be in Curtis’ name,” Witherspoon said.

In the same auditorium where her husband’s memorial service was held, Laurie Curtis spoke to the students that he loved so dearly.

“It is so awesome to know you did this,” she said to the cadets. “He would brag about you, and he expected a lot from you.”

She said that he didn’t expect his cadets just to be sharp. He wanted them to be razor sharp.

“He engaged the whole cadet corps like he was everyone’s father,” Moore said.

The instructor was also a devout man that was active in his spiritual community at Southside Vineyard Community Church in Smithfield, Laurie Curtis said.

“He just had a way of teaching his students, and being there for them as a spiritual counselor and mentor,” she said.

She said he gave 100 percent to his cadets, teaching them to embody honor, commitment and courage. He pushed them to excel in class, prepare for SATs and apply to colleges.

“He would love to know that (the check) is going towards a scholarship,” she said.