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Dennehys endow scholarship for Whistler students

Couple creates legacy to their children through CFOW

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Kerry and Ginny Dennehy are no strangers to tragedy.

In 2001, their son Kelty took his life after battling severe depression.

Eight years later, their daughter Riley died from a heart attack brought on by prescription medication.

But from those tragedies the Dennehys have created hope for thousands.

Fundraising efforts have brought in millions in support for British Columbia youth.

Now, the Whistler couple hopes to give back directly to the young people of the resort.

In October, the Community Foundation of Whistler (CFOW) announced the creation of the Kelty and Riley Dennehy Scholarship Fund.

The scholarship was made possible thanks to a donation of $100,000 from the Dennehys.

"We've always loved Whistler and the people of Whistler, and it's just one more way of giving back to the people that we love and the people that have helped us so much through our fundraising years," Kerry said.

The donation will go into an endowment fund, where it will generate interest that will be spun off into two separate scholarships for Whistler grads each year, one male and one female.

Rather than being given out based on marks, Kerry said he and Ginny would like it to be awarded based on other merits.

"(Kelty and Riley) were solid students and good athletes, but they both had a reputation for being very supportive friends, being mentors, being good to people and being very giving people," said Kerry.

"It should go to a person that maybe is a mentor in some ways, is a leader in some ways in getting involved in charities or helping others, or helping their community."

Applications for the scholarship will be reviewed by the CFOW's scholarship committee, with the recipients being announced at the end of each school year.

The first scholarships will be awarded in 2016.

After that, the scholarships should be awarded annually for as long as there are students in Whistler.

"That is the beauty of an endowment fund, is the donation is permanently invested, so it will be there forever to continue to generate grants, year after year after year," said Carol Coffey, executive director of the CFOW.

"I think it's very important that local families know that these scholarship resources are there for them, and they'll be there even for families that have young children now."

For the Dennehys, the scholarship is a lasting legacy for their children, but also a way forward for discussions around mental health.

"The more we decrease the stigma and bring it out into the open, the more it's going to help," Kerry said.

"It's always got to be in the forefront of people's minds that these problems really can be dangerous."

The Dennehy children may be gone, but they won't soon be forgotten.

"All in all, Ginny and I are just delighted to be able to have the opportunity to donate these funds to the CFOW as a legacy to our kids," Kerry said.

"And an everlasting thank you to our lives in Whistler, including all four of us, and all of the people that helped us along the way. We love Whistler."

For more information about this and other scholarships, visit www.whistlerfoundation.com or talk to your school.

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