CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — One student at the Illinois Fire Service Institute has earned thousands of dollars in scholarship money. It comes from one local motorcycle club’s goal to honor a fallen member.
The $5,000 scholarship came courtesy of the Blue Crew Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club as part of the McCrone Scholarship. The club started this yearly award five years ago in honor of former Pesotum Fire Captain Chaz McCrone. McCrone was an original member of the club and passed away five years ago.
Club President Randy Shannon said this scholarship helps to honor Chaz’s memory.
“Every young boy grows up wanting to be a fireman, you know what I mean? These guys selflessly put themselves in harm’s way to protect the community, and that’s exactly how Charles lived his life,” Shannon said. “He lived his life giving to the community, as president of the Sons of the American Legion. He was a captain of the fire department, an EMT; everything he did was for somebody else and the selfless act of these young men. I thought that was the best way to honor him and carry on his name.”
The scholarship was awarded to 21-year-old Payton Bryant. Bryant had been a volunteer fireman in Shelbyville since he was 16 and was using his lawn care company to put himself through training. Now, the money will pay for Bryant’s training and education as he pursues his goals in both firefighting and fire investigation.
Bryant said he was honored to add onto the legacy of this scholarship.
“Knowing that there’s going to be more to come after me, and just a few before me because it’s been a few years — they’ve done it nicely,” he said. “Just want to keep staying with the crew that is here, the Blue Crew, and stay in touch with them and see how it all goes.”
The money came through community fundraising through the efforts of the Blue Crew. Shannon said the club wants to propel Bryant to his goals.
“I’m hoping he completes his dream. You know, I mean, that may sound far-fetched, but his dream was to become a fireman, and that’s why he’s here. And he’s doing well in this academy. So we just want to give that opportunity to help.”
Blue Crew said the goal is to continue this yearly scholarship tradition every year.