Craig Rotary launches scholarship to honor the late Bob Johnson | CraigDailyPress.com

Craig Rotary launches scholarship to honor the late Bob Johnson

Noelle Leavitt Riley

Bob Johnson Memorial Scholarship winners Connor Gallo, left, Jordan Cleaver and Brendan Hopkins shop for winter gear in Steamboat last month.

— Bob Johnson was a passionate and kind man who cared deeply about many things, especially Craig Rotary and skiing.

That's why Craig Rotary decided to honor him with the annual Bob Johnson Memorial Scholarship, aimed at helping kids in need get on the slopes.

The $1,000 scholarship was awarded to four children last month. Each received $250 for winter gear they can use not only on the mountain, but also during the cold winter months in Craig.

Before Craig Rotary members launched the scholarship, they reached out to the Boys & Girls Club of Northwest Colorado, asking executive director Dana Duran to help choose children in need of the funds. Duran also helped Craig Rotary partner with the SOS program, which helps teach kids to get on the mountain.

Duran quickly, and knowledgably, picked four young men, two from Craig Middle School and two from Moffat County High School.

Connor Gallo, Jordan Cleaver, Brendan Hopkins and Johnathen Ziegler were given the money and all have enjoyed time on the mountain.

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"It made his year," said Sheryl Zulian, grandmother of Johnathen. "It was an awesome opportunity for him to grow and learn, and he really embraced the whole experience."

That's exactly what Craig Rotary was hoping to give to kids — a little slice of Johnson's love for the outdoors.

Johnson peacefully passed away at his home last March. He was an avid skier and mountain man and always talked about his time on the slopes. His family held a reception to honor him at the Center of Craig, and they placed his ski passes from years past on each table, signifying his love for Alpine skiing.

Craig Rotary has what it calls "good news" that members share about their lives at the start of each meeting.

"That was always his good news. It was always something about where he got to go skiing," said Craig Rotarian David Pressgrove, who helped set up the scholarship.

Pressgrove, who also is the director of Bear River Young Life, took one of the three scholarship recipients on a weekend trip to Telluride with Young Life.

He took the other three recipients to Steamboat. They had a blast on the mountain, he said.

"They were great. It was fun. They tried to find the best deals," Pressgrove said about their shopping experience. "They wanted to stretch the money as far as they could."

Duran said the experience was more than just getting on the mountain.

"It was about learning core values and being the best person you can be," she said, noting that getting on the slopes is often a challenge, and the scholarship winners were able to embrace the challenge with open arms.

Other Rotarians also share excitement about the scholarship.

"It's an amazing way to honor Bob," said Rotary Assistant Governor Randy Looper. "It's a way to help kids in a way Bob would have loved."

Contact Noelle Leavitt Riley at 970-875-1790 or nriley@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @noelleleavitt.