Family keeps son’s memory alive with scholarship

By Dean Palmer - For The Pilot


PILOT MOUNTAIN — As Chrystal and Jason Pettitt near the date of what would have been their late son Jacob’s 18th birthday, they are seeking to continue his legacy through a scholarship designed to benefit a local student who reflects his values, interests and commitment.

The Jacob Daniel Pettitt Memorial Scholarship Fund will award its first scholarship this year to a member of what would have been Pettitt’s graduating class. Funds are being raised through early registration for the annual Jacob Pettitt Memorial 5K, scheduled to take place on Nov. 7, the day after Jacob’s 18th birthday.

A 15-year-old sophomore at East Surry High School, Pettitt was injured in an automobile accident on Sept. 3, 2013. He remained in a coma for 19 days as fellow students, friends and community residents prayed and sought to support the Pettitt family. He died on Sept. 22 of that year.

“Jason and I want to extend our appreciation to Jacob’s church youth leader, Allison Dotson, for how she has worked to keep prayer in our community and to continue what had started while he was in the hospital and after his passing,” Chrystal Pettitt said.

“Looking back at this experience, the accident and its wide impact, God had been laying the groundwork in our lives, getting us ready for what was to happen. God has a plan and we have to trust him. Kids, faculty and parents all came together in prayer and support during that time. We want to try to continue that as we work to continue all that he valued.”

The scholarship will be awarded based upon an application process which will include an essay to be written on one of several available topics. Topics will reflect Jacob Pettitt’s interests, involvements and aspirations. Entrants will be judged anonymously, with the selection to be made by Pettitt’s parents.

“In establishing this scholarship,” Chrystal Pettitt explained, “we tried to think about who Jacob was and what was important to him. We’ve worked with (East Surry Principal) Lorrie Sawyers and she’s now in the process of getting applications ready for his class.”

According to Chrystal Pettitt, the scholarship will have an academic focus but the recipient should also display a well-rounded diversity of interests.

“We want to select someone who has similar values and goals as Jacob had,” Pettitt said. “He prided himself in academics, his church and mission work and being active in athletics and his community.”

“At the time of his accident, Jacob was one of the top students in his class. His goal was to go to Wake Forest University and to go on to become a neurosurgeon. And we have no doubt he would have accomplished that. But God had a different plan and a different goal for Jacob to achieve on another level.”

Based upon Jacob Pettitt’s interest and proficiency in academics, the scholarship bearing his name will consider GPA as well as a desire to seek further education in medicine, biology or the sciences.

Another consideration will be a reflection of Jacob’s active involvement in his church. His mother mentioned that had taken part in several youth mission trips, all of which had powerfully affected his life.

“They were opportunities for him to see God at work,” Chrystal Pettitt explained, “and they hit home with him. He met well-educated and academically gifted homeless people and that made an impression on him. He learned that things do happen to people and that those are the people God is closest to.”

Early registration for the Jacob Pettitt Memorial 5K will be open through Oct. 30 at a cost of $20 per youth and $25 per adult.

Standard registration, at a cost of $30, will be available through the morning of the event. Day-of-event registration will begin at 7 a.m. with the walk/run scheduled to begin at 8:30 at the Fairview United Methodist Church cemetery. Additional details are available at

“This year,” Chrystal Pettitt said, “at Jacob’s 18th birthday, it’s a little more special. We want to provide this scholarship for the community to lessen the burden for one of his classmates. Jacob would want that.”

“We’ve told Jacob’s friends that as we deal with this whole new way of life, don’t live for Jacob but let Jacob live through you. Do the things that he can’t do. We want to continue his legacy. We don’t want people to forget.”

Dean Palmer may be reached at 336-351-4131 or


By Dean Palmer

For The Pilot

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