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#25yearsGrowingGood Anniversary Milestone 3: Jonathan Teuscher Scholarship established as first CRCF memorial scholarship

by kwindus
Wed, Feb 20th 2019 12:00 pm

“Nothing has ever been accomplished in any walk of life without enthusiasm, without motivation, and without perseverance.”

-Jim Valvano

 

Jonathan Teuscher faced challenges in his 19-year life. But like the most special among us, he knew that anything could be accomplished with enthusiasm, motivation and perseverance.

Teuscher was born premature and diagnosed with cerebral palsy. And yet, he never let his physical limitations hinder his pursuits. A 1998 graduate of Portville Central School, he was a member of the school’s football and track teams.

Teuscher passed away in a tragic car accident in 1999, but his legacy, characterized by those three essential characteristics, continues to live on through the Jonathan Teuscher Scholarship at the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation.

Teuscher was adamantly pursuing a degree in marketing and management at St. Bonaventure University at the time of the accident that took his life.

It was in this spirit that his family and friends decided to establish the Jonathan Teuscher Scholarship to provide annual scholarships to graduating students from Allegany-Limestone Central, Hinsdale Central, Olean High and Portville Central schools and Archbishop Walsh Academy. The scholarship fund provides awards to each recipient of $625 renewable up to for years for a total award of $2,500.

The Teuscher Scholarship was the very first memorial scholarship established at the Foundation. Since its establishment in 2000, the scholarship fund has made possible over $146,000 in support for students who faced challenges with enthusiasm, motivation and perseverance ­ just like Jonathan.

At the center of the scholarship criteria are the character traits that made Teuscher such a special young man.

According to Teuscher’s father, Steve Teuscher, that was always the intent of the scholarship. And that intent was informed not by their wishes, but by the way Jonathan led his life.

In 2012 the Jonathan Teuscher Scholarship Committee, which gathers each year to review scholarship applications and suggest the recipients, received the Friends of the Foundation award, the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation’s highest honor.

In an interview with CRCF at that time, members of that committee remembered Teuscher’s special legacy as if no time had passed in the 13 years since the accident.

“Jonathan’s actions in life spoke volumes about what a role model should be,” said David Todd, Jonathan Teuscher Scholarship committee member and Jonathan’s youth football coach. “He was a living example that ‘life is about helping others,’” a statement that has made its way into the criteria of scholarship eligibility.

“His selfless attitude, his perpetual smile, his love of life and his magnetism will insist that he is remembered as a giant among men of this community,” Mr. Todd added. “No exaggeration. Jonathan didn’t make any big deal about overcoming adversity, though that’s exactly what he did. He simply ignored his shortcomings.”

Because of the scholarship fund at the Foundation and the committee’s dedication, that legacy lives on and each year supports students who overcome challenges with enthusiasm in the community, said Karen Niemic Buchheit, CRCF Executive Director.

One of those past students who received the scholarship honoring Teuscher’s legacy is Beth Taggerty. Taggerty grew up with Jonathan in Portville, and after her mother Eva Taggerty passed away in 2018, she decided to create a scholarship in her mother’s honor.

“I grew up next to Jonathan. He taught me how to play the board game Battleship. I always looked at Jonathan as a mentor. I thought, the same as he did, that he could tackle anything,” remembered Taggerty.

“I remember at the time thinking there is no way I am going to be able to be in the same league as the people this scholarship is searching for,” she continued. “I don’t remember what I wrote, but the scholarship committee chose me.

“I was determined to make Jonathan proud, I would ensure that his legacy was honored and upheld.  I needed to do my friend proud. “

To this day, Jonathan’s legacy resonates in the community. A big part of that is the Jonathan Teuscher Scholarship Fund. When Taggerty made the decision to establish the Eva Taggerty Memorial Scholarship Fund, she remembered being selected to receive the Teuscher scholarship in memory of her friend.

“Unfortunately, like Jonathan’s family, our family experienced a tremendous loss when my mom, Eva M. Taggerty, passed away in the summer of 2018, after a short battle with cancer.  My mom, like Jonathan, saw the good in people, and was always willing to help,” said Taggerty.

“So I was thinking…. What do I do to honor her?” she added. “After talking to some taggother people, a scholarship kept popping up. After thinking and discussing with them, I decided to let the Foundation continue my mom’s legacy.”

As CRCF progresses through its 25th anniversary year, these connections in particular stand out to CRCF Executive Director Karen Niemic Buchheit.

“It is particularly meaningful as we start to think about these connections that have formed over our organization’s history,” said Buchheit. “From what I have learned about him in the years of working with the family, I think Jonathan would be so proud that his value in helping others has manifested itself in those who have received the scholarship.”

CRCF’s 25-year history is driven by the legacy of people like Jonathan Teuscher and continues to be propelled by individuals like Eva Taggerty — people who are remembered for their deep love of making a difference and Growing Good in the community.