Born October 28, 1983, Jerod came into the world giving. Being the oldest of three he quickly showed his willingness to help and lead. Always considerate of others and giving by nature, he was special from day one.
When he was four years old he became a big brother. Because he had such an extroverted personality and was always center of attention, he adapted quickly to his new role. So much so that his little brother did not speak until he was almost five years old because Jerod spoke for him.
In high school Jerod was active in sports and drama. He was devoted to his family and friends and was always willing to help those in need. While on his way to his senior prom he caused his friends to be late because he stopped to pick up a hitchhiker. In his senior year, searching for his purpose, Jerod went to Oklahoma City for an armed services' recruiting event. It was then that he decided he wanted to join the United States Army.
Two weeks after Jerod’s paperwork was signed the 9/11 attacks took place. Like so many that day, he was at school when the towers came tumbling down. When he got home that afternoon his father was waiting for him on the porch. He told Jerod it was not too late to change his mind but Jerod was more committed than ever. He never wavered in his decision. He graduated in May 2002 and left for boot camp in June.
Jerod left Antlers, Oklahoma as a kid that was always running out of gas and giving away his possessions to the point of not knowing whose clothes he was wearing or who was wearing his. But he would not stay that kid for long and he would continue to give of himself.
Jerod wrote home often. He wrote about missing his family and friends. He wrote about the pink goats and yellow chickens he saw and about his plans for when he returned home. His love for his family bled through each letter and each poorly connected phone call. While Jerod experienced many changes during his training his heart remained unchanged, fully devoted and committed.
He entertained his soldier brothers with stories about his family and life in Oklahoma. He talked about how much he missed his Grandma Inez’s home cooking, especially her biscuits and gravy, and gained a reputation of being a mamma’s boy.
Upon graduating from boot camp, his sister Jillian remembers thinking, “Whoa, is that a man or my brother? Where did the kid go?” Jillian speaks fondly of the transition Jerod made from being that kid to becoming a man. But underneath it all he was still that sweet kid with a boyish nature and a giving heart. He would give it all and nothing could change that.
On April 25, 2003, in Shkin, Afghanistan Jerod would show the world just how much he was willing to give for others. He made the ultimate sacrifice while defending our nation as a part of Operation Enduring Freedom. Today his legacy and spirit lives on. It is that legacy that encouraged the creation of Inspired by Others. Jerod is an example of giving freely without asking for or expecting anything in return. His humble acts of kindness are stories of his legacy to this day. IBO began as a means to expand his legacy but also aims to expand the legacy of others.
This first scholarship, The Jerod Dennis Memorial Scholarship, will pave the way for others like it.
IBO believes there are many ways to remember the greats of our time like Jerod and many others. We choose to create educational scholarships to pay forward the generosity of those who so freely give of themselves and to offer an opportunity to those who need a helping hand.
Scholarships, like so many efforts, take a community and commitment to build and to keep them going from year to year. Join us in expanding the legacy that Jerod created and building the legacy of others in higher education.
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