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Scholarships benefit students whose parents experienced workplace injuries

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The price her father paid on the job is helping Emma Hyson pay for college.

Hyson, a freshman at the University of Charleston, is a pre-pharmacy major. She is a beneficiary of Kids’ Chance, which provides scholarships to West Virginia students who have a parent who was seriously, catastrophically or fatally injured in a work-related accident.

Hyson was honored, along with the program, at the state Capitol on Monday. Her father, who lost the lower parts of both legs in a workplace accident before she was born, was there and proud.

“I didn’t know about it until about this time last year when I was applying for scholarships and came across the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation and found out I qualified because of my dad,” said Hyson, a Parkersburg South High School graduate.

Her appearance at the Capitol came as Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin recognized Kids’ Chance Awareness Week in West Virginia. The program was established in this state in 1998 under then-Gov. Cecil Underwood. Since its inception, the organization has provided more than $150,000 in scholarships to West Virginia students.

Each scholarship provides at least $1,000 for tuition, room and board, books or other expenses. Funding for Kids’ Chance is provided through tax-deductible donations by individuals, companies, foukndations and other organizations as well as through annual fundraising events.

Tomblin’s chief of staff, Chris Stadelman, spoke at the ceremony.

“Unfortunately, we know accidents do still happen and when that happens the entire family is affected,” Stadelman said.

Stadelman also stated, “For too many West Virginia young people whose parents have been injured or killed on the job, attending a trade school or college is very difficult, if not impossible. Kids’ Chance helps ensure that they have the financial support they need to continue their education.

“These students can graduate, have good paying jobs, provide for their families and make a real difference in their local communities and in West Virginia.”

Emma Hyson’s father, Brian, has prosthetics that start at knee level. He was severely injured in 1993 when he was working on a tire shredding machine. He was inside the machine to do the mechanical work, and a co-worker turned it on without realizing he was in there, he said.

“It sounds bad, but I didn’t lose consciousness until they put me out for surgery,” he said.

He said he has not really worked since.

He said his family was lucky to find the scholarship available.

“She’s going to private school so every penny helps,” Brian Hyson said.

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