Scholarship Fund Honors a Courageous Salem Lion
In April of 2012, the Salem Football Alumni Association chose to start a scholarship fund through the Washington County Community Foundation. This fund will provide scholarships for Salem High School graduates who were a part of the football program and displayed leadership both on and off the field. The Bailey Hamilton Salem Football Alumni Association Scholarship Fund was named in honor of a brave and honorable young man of this community.
If you attend any home football game of the Salem Lions, you will quickly find Bailey Hamilton cheering loudly somewhere in the stands. He is one of the team’s biggest supporters of all time. Bailey Hamilton will be a junior this fall at Salem High School. He is involved in his community in numerous ways. He and his family attend Southern Hills Christian Church, where he is active in the youth group. He is also an eight-year member of 4H. Bailey has spent many years showing both goats and sheep and has received many awards for his work. He is also a member of Junior Leaders.
Without a doubt, Bailey Hamilton is someone whom everyone can look up to. His smile and positive attitude have remained even when life has thrown him many obstacles. Bailey’s school career has been much more challenging than many of his peers. In his very first year of school at Bradie Shrum Elementary, Bailey was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). While his diagnosis would bring him extra challenges to face each day, he has faced them with courage and strength that has inspired many. He has gained the respect of many through his humble and independent spirit. “Bailey is probably the funniest, strongest person I know. He never lets his disability get him down. Even though sometimes my family are the only ones who get to see the real him, he does always have a smile on his face, which I feel inspires others around him,” says his sister Paige.
Bailey is a true example of a proud Salem Lion. Even though he is not able to be out on the football field in person, he is there in spirit. Bailey has loved the game of football since he was a little boy, and he rarely misses the chance to support his fellow classmates and friends out on their field on Friday nights. When game time comes, he leaves his quiet, reserved personality behind and loudly encourages the players.
Part of Bailey’s love for the game has come from his dad, who played four years of football at Salem High School in the 1980s. Both of his parents, Duane and Lana Hamilton, are Salem alumni. His older sister Paige, who is now studying English at Franklin College, also graduated from Salem in 2010. The family has always been a large supporter of Salem athletics.
Duane Hamilton’s support has been strong for many years as part of the Salem Football Alumni Association. He has been with the association since it first began. The support that he has shown to the program has now been passed on to Bailey. The two are involved with the team and have attended practices and many events held by the coaches. Lana states that Duane is a very good motivator who has been able to encourage many players through his ability to understand where they are coming from and build relationships with them. When speaking of all the ways Duane and Bailey have been able to encourage the players, Lana believes “this is a big part of what the Alumni Association is.”
Bailey’s family was very touched by the fact that the Alumni Association made the decision to name the scholarship fund in Bailey’s honor. Lana describes the day that Adrian Brown, the association’s president, told her about their decision. Lana already knew about the scholarship and that it would benefit students who had played football and had shown leadership in athletics, academics, and character. However, she was shocked when Adrian told her that it would be named in honor of her son. Truly touched by the honor, she stated, “This a great way for Bailey to be remembered for many years to come.” With a daughter in college, Lana and Duane know how much of a blessing scholarships are for students and their families and the difference they can make in allowing them to further their education. “Scholarships are a huge blessing. This is a way for Bailey and our family to be a blessing to others,” Lana says.
The Salem Football Alumni Association chose to begin the scholarship fund in order to benefit students and to begin thinking about the future. “We wanted to do something long-lasting. Since the board is always rotating, we wanted to do something to leave an imprint as the current board,” says President Adrian Brown. Members of the association believed Bailey was an excellent choice for whom to honor with the scholarship. Brown stated that everyone on the board knows Bailey and his dad and believes that Bailey is an excellent representation of the passion and excitement they want the football program to support. “We knew Bailey would be out there if his wheelchair wasn’t holding him back. He has a passion for the game.”
The Alumni Association and the Hamilton family hope that this scholarship fund will continue benefiting hard-working graduates for many years. “I want this to live on, and I am willing to do whatever it takes to keep it going... This is something I want to live forever,” stated Lana Hamilton. This will be possible with the support of people in this community who have the same desire. If you are interested in giving to the Bailey Hamilton Salem Football Alumni Association Scholarship Fund, you can make a donation at any time to the Washington County Community Foundation. These donations can be sent to the Community Foundation at P.O. Box 50, Salem, IN 47167 or online at www.wccf.biz.