Waco: Top year yet for HOT Fair & Rodeo scholarships

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WOODWAY, Texas (KWTX) Central Texans are getting to see their rodeo dollars at work.

The 2019 scholarship recipients. (Photo courtesy of the Heart O' Texas Fair & Rodeo)

The money they spent at the 2018 Heart O' Texas Fair & Rodeo made a big difference in the lives of area students Thursday night.

$153,000 in scholarship money was divvied out to 48 students during the HOT Fair & Rodeo Scholarship Recognition Banquet at the Carleen Bright Arboretum in Woodway.

"Scholarships are our game," said Charva Ingram, Vice President of Marketing and Sponsorship Development for the HOT Fair & Rodeo. "We have a scholarship committee that does some different activities and events to help build into that fund, but the fair in October is really what we consider our biggest fundraiser."

Ingram says this is the most the non-profit has ever been able to give out.

"The more money we make, the more opportunity we have to put that money back out in the community through scholarships," said Ingram.

Students and their parents ate a dinner catered by George's before listening to the featured speaker, KWTX News Anchor Julie Hays.

"It takes a whole lot more than just having a dream," said Hays.

With a message of never giving up, Hays told students they might get a million 'no's', but someday they'll get a 'yes' to their dream if they put in the effort it takes to achieve it.

"As you set your next goal in life, put in the hard work that is needed, outwork the person next to you, show compassion to everyone around you, and don't let 'no' be the final word in your story," said Hays. "Expect a lot of 'no's' because they will come, but it's what you're willing to do with that answer that will, I promise you, trust me on this, it will eventually lead to a three-letter word that will change your life forever - YES."

To help them achieve their dreams, students were surprised with scholarships ranging from $2,000 to $15,000.

The top two scholarships went to HOT Fair & Rodeo Sweethearts; the Top Scholar and Board of Directors Scholarship of $15,000 was awarded to Laynie Grisham of Connally High School, and the Reserve Top Scholar and Heart O' Texas Fair & Rodeo Scholarship of $10,000 was awarded to Halee Wise of Waco High School.

Students who apply get scored on various criteria including grades and GPA, extra curricular activities, and financial need, etc.

The 48 recipients will be going to 18 different colleges across the country, studying everything from animal science to engineering.

Since 1991, the HOT Fair & Rodeo has given more than $3,000,000 in scholarships to Central Texas students.