An unfortunate knee injury put a stop to Rend Lake College student Shane Garner’s basketball career and has put him on the baseball sidelines this spring. Even so, Garner considers himself a lucky man.
Garner (Sesser) is the recipient of this year’s Fornear Family Scholarship, which provides a "full ride" to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
According to Pat Mitchell, Chief Executive Officer of the Rend Lake College Foundation, the Fornear Family Scholarship is a "one-of-a-kind" award. It provides $10,000 per year for two years. The award has been issued since 1998 to RLC graduates transferring to SIUC and first preference is given to Sesser residents.
In his scholarship application letter, Garner said he graduated Sesser-Valier High School with a 3.954 grade-point average. During high school, Garner became a member of the National Honor Society, Outdoorsman Club, Thespians and Bible Club. Athletically, he was named to the All-State Basketball Team and the All-Conference Baseball and Football teams, and he became a conference champion in track.
Garner, the son of Lonnie and Cheryl Garner of Sesser, also is heavily involved in his church. According to Woody D. Wilson, pastor of First Baptist Church of Sesser, Garner was highly involved in the church’s youth program while in high school and has continued to look for opportunities to serve since graduation.
During the past three summers, Garner has taken mission trips with the church to help build houses for low-income families in places such as Cheyenne, Wyo.; Boston; Sioux City, Iowa; Baton Rouge, La.; and Shreveport, La.
"Shane is a hard-working student and athlete ... he is friendly, cooperative and has a great spirit about him," Wilson wrote. "He represents himself, his family, school and church with integrity and honor."
At Rend Lake College, Garner joined the Warriors basketball and baseball teams, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Athletic Student Council and Phi Theta Kappa, all the while maintaining a 3.65 grade-point average.
However, Garner’s promising college athletics career hit a setback early this year when, while running during basketball practice, Garner felt a pop in his knee. He later found that he had torn his medial meniscus, an injury which required surgery to repair. The injury ended his basketball career and kept him from playing baseball this spring.
"I was hurt and depressed at first, but I knew I had to go on because it happened on God’s terms and it is His will for me," Garner said. As it happened, the injury introduced Garner to a new passion.
The rehabilitation sessions following Garner’s knee surgery got him interested in the field of physical therapy, so much so that he has decided to make it his career.
"I not only chose this profession because I love it, but also because it is a service I can give back to the community," Garner said. He said he plans to stay and work in this area after graduating SIUC.
Garner said his father Lonnie, a coal miner for nearly 20 years, was his "determination and reason" for pursuing the Fornear Family Scholarship. He said obtaining the scholarship would relieve a great burden from the shoulders of his father, who often has faced the prospect of unemployment in a field with increasingly less job security.
"If this scholarship would allow my dad to breathe at least one sigh of relief, it would be far more gratifying that anything I have ever done or accomplished in my life," Garner said.
Garner will be recognized as the Fornear Family Scholarship recipient at the Rend Lake College Foundation Scholarship Dinner on September 23.
James R. Fornear is the founder of the Fornear Family Scholarship. Fornear was a youth foundation and Job Corps Center director before starting his Louisville, Kentucky-based rehabilitation company, Res-Care Inc. (signifying respect and care), in 1974.
Fornear built Res-Care into a multi-million dollar corporation recognized by Forbes and Business Week magazines. His corporation is traded on the NASDAQ, and Fornear remains a company board member though retired from daily corporate operations. Res-Care helps and houses the disabled, teaches job skills to needy youths and provides support to homebound people.
Fornear, a former part-time Sociology instructor at Mt. Vernon Community College, has been named Southern Illinois University at Carbondale’s Alumnus of the Year and has twice appeared on the cover of SIU Alumni magazine. He also was named Alumnus of the Year at Sesser-Valier High School.
Previous winners of the Fornear Family Scholarship are:
1998 -- Jody Williams (Sesser)
1999 -- Nicole Cockrum (Benton)
2000 -- Lacy Kirk (Sesser)
2001 -- Jerry Travelstead (Sesser)
2003 -- Mandi Page and Zack Zimbro (both of Sesser)
For more information about this and other scholarship opportunities at Rend Lake College, contact the RLC Foundation at (618) 437-5321, Ext. 1213 or 1324, or call toll-free (in-district only) at 1-800-369-5321.