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GECKO awards annual scholarships

By Stewart Bellina
Special to The PREVIEW

Photo courtesy Stewart Bellina Volunteers Karin Daniels and Nicki Alley pose with GECKO/NOLS scholarship recipient Angette Pastuszek. GECKO volunteers and scholars become quite close throughout the scholarship process.

Photo courtesy Stewart Bellina
Volunteers Karin Daniels and Nicki Alley pose with GECKO/NOLS scholarship recipient Angette Pastuszek. GECKO volunteers and scholars become quite close throughout the scholarship process.

On Tuesday, April 22, GECKO (Giving Every Child Knowledge of the Outdoors) celebrated its 2014 class of scholarship recipients. GECKO volunteers hosted the students and their parents for a dinner and informational meeting regarding their scholarships to the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS).

Photo courtesy Stewart Bellina GECKO’s 2014 class of scholarship recipients are recognized at a dinner last week. Pictured are (back row, left to right) Davin Hanley with GECKO founder Morgan Murri (front row) Heidi Williams, Angette Pastuszek and Jessey Hampton.

Photo courtesy Stewart Bellina
GECKO’s 2014 class of scholarship recipients are recognized at a dinner last week. Pictured are (back row, left to right) Davin Hanley with GECKO founder Morgan Murri (front row) Heidi Williams, Angette Pastuszek and Jessey Hampton.

This year, GECKO selected four local students and one student from Alabama to attend the NOLS course of their choice this summer. The scholarships provided through the GECKO/NOLS partnership this year total over $28,000, bringing the scholarship total from GECKO’s first six years to over $100,000, and providing over 15 students with opportunities to attend outdoor leadership courses they otherwise would not have been able to attend.

GECKO’s first out-of-state recipient, Deja Chapell, said recently, “I expect that I will gain a substantial amount of character, know-how, and courage through my participation in a NOLS course.”

In fact, each student GECKO has sent to NOLS since its inception has reported substantial positive change upon their return.

GECKO’s scholarship money comes from donations and the events GECKO hosts in town throughout the year. The scholarship recipients work at these events as part of GECKO’s requirement that each student “pay it forward.”

Pagosa Springs resident and GECKO scholar Davin Hanley said at the dinner, “I’m really looking forward to helping out at these events; they sound like a lot of fun.”

GECKO invites you and your friends and family to come support this wonderful cause by attending or participating in one of the exciting events hosted locally this race season.

You can visit GECKO’s website at www.joingecko.org for an updated events list or to see how you can help.

This story was posted on May 1, 2014.