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The Lynchburg Life Saving Crew is lending a helping hand to future and current college students who are seeking a degree in the health and education field.

Grant Azdell, secretary on the board of directors and chief emeritus for the Lynchburg Life Saving Crew, said currently the crew teaches classes and try to “focus on serving the citizens of Lynchburg still, even though we are limited on what we can do.”

One of those serving elements for the organization is scholarships.

The University of Lynchburg announced recently it’s receiving a $50,000 scholarship to support graduate students pursuing a degree in PA medicine or athletic training, with a preference given to students who are or have been EMTs, paramedics or have volunteered in emergency services or EMS.

Scholarships will be available to qualifying students beginning this fall.

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Scholarship recipients can receive the award, at the University of Lynchburg, for multiple consecutive years and if the students meet the selection criteria, there can be more than one recipient each year, according to a release from the university.

Emily Evans, an assistant professor of athletic training at the University of Lynchburg and member of the LLSC Board said, in a news release from the University of Lynchburg announcing the scholarship from the organization, that she was “thrilled to add the scholarship opportunities for MSAT and PA students.”

“This scholarship is a way for LLSC to continue to give back to the Lynchburg community by providing financial assistance to students in emergency medical programs. I couldn’t be happier to see both organizations continue to work together to endow this scholarship,” Evans said in the release.

Azdell also explained the organization did three other, simultaneous scholarships:

$40,000 to Central Virginia Community College to benefit students who are seeking an EMT or paramedic licensure;

$50,000 to Liberty University, to support students who are pursuing a Master of Science degree in homeland security and disaster management, given in the memory of Chief Emeritus Kimball Glass;

$60,000, through a fund created through the Greater Lynchburg Community Foundation, to support graduates of E.C. Glass High School who are attending college with preference given to those students who are planning to teach in K-12 education, given in honor of Shirley and Evelyn McIvor;

Altogether, the scholarships total $200,000.

Once an organization of volunteers that rendered assistance throughout Lynchburg to citizens in emergencies and life threatening situations, the crew was established in 1934 after a group of 11 young men met one night on March 26 to discuss two events — a fire that broke out on Feb. 10, 1934 in the McGehee Furniture Company building and a blaze on March 25, 1934 at the Lynchburg Transient Bureau, that started in the kitchen, resulting in the death of 22 men and the hospitalization of 75 others.

In 1990, the organization saw most of its emergency medical response transferred to the Lynchburg Fire and EMS department and call volume for volunteers were cut, making it difficult to maintain members, according to the crew’s website.

In December 2012, the city of Lynchburg and the Lynchburg Fire Department pulled the LLSC out of the 911 dispatch system and cut off its funding in the operation budget July 2012. In 2013, the board formally announced they would focus on community CPR, first aid and EMT training.

Azdell said the organization has always supported education, “especially medical education in the city of Lynchburg.”

“We want to constantly give back to the citizens of Lynchburg and if we are able to help support students in these different areas and they remain in the town, in the city of Lynchburg … that’s a plus,” Azdell said.

Kathryn Yarzebinski, president and CEO of the Greater Lynchburg Community Foundation, said the impact is “immeasurable” for the students that end up getting the scholarship.

Yarzebinski said the first scholarship, from the fund at community foundation, will be distributed next spring.

“I’m really glad that we can partner together, to create this new scholarship together,” she said.

Other than the McIvor gift, most of the money for the scholarships are “the result of liquidation of our own property and that sort of thing over the years.”

Azdell said they have offered three to five scholarships every year, “from as far back as I can remember,” adding the connections and building of relations with the schools were “a little different.”

He said UL and Liberty both provided the organization with volunteers over the years, both students and staff members.

The LU grant, Azdell explained, was made in honor of Jerry Falwell Sr. as he first donated to the crew a machine called “the jaws of life” from the Hurst Products Corporation — used to extricate victims from mangled car, train and plane crashes.

“We were looking for similar ways to engage those schools and students that were coming out of those schools to help them monetarily through an endowed scholarship, but also to recognize those connections we have with the institutions that we donated to,” he said.

Azdell said the board doesn’t care if the students are teaching, volunteering or in the medical profession, the importance is they are giving back to the community which is a mission of the Lynchburg Life Saving Crew.

“Instead of draining that knowledge away to other localities, if they grow an affinity, through their college connections … and through the scholarship they grow an affinity to the citizens of Lynchburg, that just makes the city better,” Azdell said.

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