Jessica Johnson loved horses and always dreamed of attending William Woods University to study equestrian science. But the young woman from Wildwood, Mo., had been battling cancer for almost five years.
In January 2005, WWU faculty, staff and students rallied to her support and staged a drive to collect the blood, platelets and bone marrow she so desperately needed. In March of 2005, Jessica received a bone marrow transplant at St. Louis Children’s Hospital…her brother, Jared, had been a “perfect match.”
With the help of her principal, teachers, classmates and even some doctors and nurses, Jessica miraculously graduated in May, 2005. Three months later, the Lafayette High School graduate arrived on the campus of William Woods University for new student orientation.
However, she was so weak she had to leave before classes started. She was re-admitted to St. Louis Children’s Hospital on Aug. 19. She died on Sept. 24.
Jessica’s mother, Vicki, is determined to keep her daughter’s spirit and dream alive by helping other students attend William Woods. She held a fund-raising barbeque and dance on June 17 at a 50-acre ranch in Wildwood, where Jessica’s thoroughbred horse, Tizon, is kept. With the help of lots of friends and family, the event raised more than $10,000 for the Jessica Johnson Memorial Equestrian Scholarship.
During this year’s new student orientation, Vicki Johnson made the trip to Fulton to meet the first scholarship recipient, Megan Scheuerman, a freshman from South Kansas City, Mo.
Megan comes to William Woods with top credentials. She graduated from Center High School in Kansas City with a 3.96 and was ranked sixth out of 170 students. She was involved in Key Club, Student Government Association, National Honor Society, Photography Club and German Club. And perhaps most important to Vicki Johnson, Megan is an equestrian science major.
“I wanted to award the scholarship to someone who is dedicated to leadership and service roles in their community and who loves horses as much as my daughter did. Megan’s credentials and essay stood out and I’m honored to present her with this scholarship in my daughter’s memory,” Johnson said.
To learn more about the Jessica Johnson Memorial Equestrian Scholarship visit www.caringbridge.org/mo/jessicajohnson.
CUTLINE: Vicki Johnson (left) and Megan Scheuerman visit with Jelly, a hunter-jumper pinto pony, at the William Woods University outdoor equestrian arena.