The Foothill Striders fund two scholarships each year for graduating high school seniors in Blount County.
William Taylor Drake and Brooke Autumn Mende are the 2017 recipients of a Foothill Striders scholarship. The awards are given each year to two Blount County students, who have distinguished themselves academically as well as physically by participating in sport activities, such as biking, hiking and/or running. Both Drake and Mende will receive a $2,000 scholarship from the Striders in the fall to assist with their upcoming college expenses.
Drake is a graduate of Maryville High School and the son Bill and Ann Drake. He plans to attend Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina. Mende is a graduate of William Blount High School and the daughter of Vic and Tonia Mende. She plans to attend East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tennessee.
During his high school career, Drake competed in cross country and track and field. He signed a letter of intent to run track with Davidson College. In addition to being a runner, he is also an avid hiker. He is the founder of Hike Untied to create awareness and to raise funds to help fight human trafficking. He led two hiking campaigns and raised over $5,200. In 2016, Drake and a friend hiked all five trails to Mount LeConte in less than 24 hours to benefit a local anti-trafficking organization, Grow Free TN. He has been recognized as a student-athlete, who thrives in the classroom, gives back to the community and treats people with respect.
Mende challenged herself with very rigorous courses in high school and ranks number six out of 414 students, while maintaining a job as a customer service representative for three years. Her references from her track coach and her cross country coach both comment on her athletic abilities and her leadership abilities, plus she has volunteered at local races. She won the best female runner award in her senior year. Mende stated in her essay, “Running has made me more ambitious to succeed in life … ”
To date, the Foothill Striders have awarded $76,900 since 1987.