CENTERVILLE, Ohio (WDTN) – Leaving a legacy: It’s something most of us would like to do when we go.
Nearly three years after the death of a local baseball star, his legacy is living on in the lives of young athletes all around the Miami Valley.
Jeff Kennard spent most of his life in the game of baseball… both as a professional athlete, and later, helping young players excel at the sport he loved.
“When his career ended, he wanted to come back to Centerville because his second love was teaching baseball to young kids,” said Jeff’s stepfather, Douglas Taylor. “He loved that.”
Jeff was living out that second love when he died in 2019– at age 37– just four months after being diagnosed with cancer.
He was a beloved son. A father. A husband. A friend. And, to hundreds of kids, an inspiration to be a better player and teammate.
“Jeff could find and take every kid and make them want to get better,” said Taylor.
So, it should be no surprise that when it came to honoring Jeff, the first thought was investing in kids.
Not long after his death, the Jeff Kennard Memorial Scholarship was born.
In less than three years, the organization has raised 50 thousand dollars.
“Did you ever think it would get this big?” 2 News Today Anchor Lauren Wood asked Nick Redlin, president of the Jeff Kennard Memorial Scholarship Foundation and Jeff’s friend.
“No,” said Redlin. “Our goal was for it to always get to where it’s at now. And our vision is actually even bigger. But this quickly?”
The organization funds a scholarship for a senior baseball player at Centerville High School and donates money to local youth sports.
The latest recipient is the West Carrollton Baseball Club. The money will help fund safety equipment, umpires, and more.
“We have talked to them kind of about what he did and what the foundation means,” said Tommy Ward, co-founder of the West Carrollton Baseball Club. “Having them helping us is probably one of the most humbling things that has happened to us.”
“The impact’s going a lot further than I think probably that they understand,” said Jason Hofschild, co-founder of the West Carrollton Baseball Club.
It’s another way Jeff Kennard is still having an impact, showing kids what it means to be a teammate.
“Whether that means being the best on the field or taking the guy next to you and helping him get better,” said Taylor. “Because when the team succeeds you succeed.”
And you can help Jeff’s friends and family continue to raise money to support local athletes.
Their biggest fundraiser of the year is coming up the first week of August.
The Jeff Kennard Memorial Golf Outing will be held on August 5th at Yankee Trace.
You can register by going to https://jeffkennardscholarship.com/events/