Honoring a friend gone too soon, foundation pays forward to children of deceased parents
Parparazzi

Honoring a friend gone too soon, foundation pays forward to children of deceased parents

Credit: Quincy Conner Foundation
Credit: Quincy Conner Foundation

Quincy Conner was bringing Christmas presents into his home on Dec. 21, 2005. This would be his first Christmas as a married man, having tied the knot in August to his long-time girlfriend, Sarah. Ohio is cold that time of year, but the presents for his wife and their then-4-year-old daughter, Trinity, would warm their hearts.

And then, suddenly, Quincy, a man barely 28 years old, had a heart attack in his kitchen. He died.


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Quincy's death brought his family together, one that extended well beyond his relatives. After moving around as a military brat, his family settled down and he grew up in Woodbridge, Va., and had remained close to the people that defined his life through high school. He joined the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity when he attended Muskingum University in New Concord, Ohio. He formed unbreakable bonds with his brothers.

Saddened by the devastating loss, these people collectively knew their pain was small in nature compare to Sarah and Trinity, who would grow up without her father's infectious energy, his mischievous grin and his wisdom.

Two of Quincy's college friends, Rob McBurney and Lukas Ford, formed The Quincy Conner Foundation, a non-profit whose mission is to award college scholarships to kids whose background is similar to Quincy's. For the last eight years, the foundation has doled out critical college money through at least one of three scholarships: the Q scholarship, given to a high school student graduating from Woodbridge Senior High School; the Memorial scholarship, for a student heading to Muskingum; and the Legacy scholarship, for high school students who lost a parent early in life, often to heart disease.

For 2016, the three scholarship winners were given $5,000 each -- the biggest awards to date. The Foundation raises money for these scholarships with two big events during the year.

In Woodbridge, Va., each September, the Foundation has a 5K -- dubbed the 5Q -- race and fun run at Lake Ridge Middle School, where Quincy went to middle school.

Before that, however, is the primary fundraiser for the year, a golf tournament in Ohio. It's an opportunity for many of Quincy's fraternity brothers, many of which are still in the Buckeye State, to stay connected. Many from Quincy's Virginia family make the trek, and they make a weekend out of it. The tournament has been called the "Know Your Hole" Tournament because Quincy loved using the pro wrestler The Rock's catch phrase, telling people friends to "know their role."

This year, the golf tournament is July 23 in Colubmus at Champions Golf Course. It's an intimate outing, some 60 folks or so, for $75 per person.


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The events have been a success in a number of ways.

The most obvious, each year, the foundation has been able to offer more money to its scholarship recipients. In my day, back when I started college in 2001, $5,000 might have paid for a semester as some places. Now, with college more expensive than ever, it doesn't go as far. However, that means high-performing, college-bound kids can turn to organizations like the Conner Foundation to piece together help that, when combined, goes a long way.

The other, and perhaps more important, success is that the events have helped Trinity get to know her father in a way she never could have anticipated. Trinity has learned about her dad from the people that grew up with him. They saw Quincy at his best, his highest -- and his lowest. They've never held back on sharing the real Quincy.

Steve Jones is one of those people. He's been a friend of mine dating back to my first college internship at a John Hancock brokerage in McLean, Va. Although now he doesn't seem much older than I am, that half-dozen years seemed like a lot at the time. He clearly had his stuff together. He taught me how to network, how to shake hands and remember names -- the kind of things that, with a good personality and an interesting story, can make forging friendships and partnerships easy. Steve knew Quincy all the way back to middle school track and field, and he invited me into his circle of friends in the years we worked together. Now living near Boston, Steve has been on the foundation board since the beginning.

"Quincy was the kind of kid who took his mother's car and drove himself to middle school one day," Steve said. "He was an affable three-sport star for most of his high school career but carried a chip on his shoulder. He worked through several spectrum learning disabilities in class but had the quickest wit when it came to talking trash. He was the first to get in a fight or to back you up in a fight, but also won the sportsmanship award in his high school football all-star game. He made life mistakes just like we all did and do, but at the end of the day he would be there to pick you up when you were at your lowest and give you the shirt off his back if you needed him to. He is my best friend and he is missed."

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Before the golf tournament each year, many of his friends gather in a circle to tell stories. Steve admits they've repeated themselves now over the years, but they've left an impression on Quincy's daughter.

It's been a long road -- a long almost 11 years -- for Trinity since her father passed. She and her mother moved from their home back to New Concord to live with her grandparents for three years. Then, Sarah, convinced Trinity needed to stay connected to her father, moved them to Woodbridge. Now, they live in San Diego, closer again to Sarah's parents that have moved out to the Golden State. The moves, the changes, the life upheaval -- they've done nothing but make Trinity into, by all accounts, an amazing young woman. She's in a gifted and talented program in her high school, and she's two years away from moving again, likely onto the campus of her choice.

In the next few years, Trinity will take control of her life, just like Quincy did. She'll go on a journey that, hopefully, will begin in earnest knowing she has the backing, confidence and love of so many people -- including her father.

Trinity's going to be fine, and that means Quincy's friends did right by him.


Support The Quincy Conner Foundation

Your donation can make a real difference in the future of college-bound kids. Donate today!




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