When Gary (’71) and Edith Holt (’72) adopted their newborn daughter, somewhere in the back of their minds they wondered if one day she’d attend Trevecca, just as they had.
But that dream was shattered along with a lot of other dreams on July 27, 2003. The Holts and their extended family were traveling to Myrtle Beach, S.C., for an annual family vacation. A produce delivery truck T-boned the SUV they were riding in.
Edith suffered a spinal cord injury with five fractured cervical vertebrae, an injury that has had long-lasting effects she still deals with today. Gary was uninjured. Edith’s niece Pam, along with her children and husband, Joe, all spent the night in the hospital.
But Sara—the Holts’ only daughter—was killed.
“Our hope and our peace are in Jesus Christ,” Edith says. “Without Him, we would truly be lost souls. Sara was our only child and we will miss her—and sometimes we still grieve for her—for the rest of our earthly lives. It has been 15 years since Sara went to be with Jesus. We know where she is, and we know that we will be with her for all of eternity.”
After Sara’s death, the couple wanted to do something that would honor their daughter, something permanent that would make a difference in others’ lives.
“Sara was not just ours,” Edith says. “She touched many lives, and we wanted to find a way to continue touching lives as a tribute to Sara in a way that had eternal significance.”
In 2006, the Holts established the Sara Holt Memorial Scholarship in their daughter’s memory. The scholarship is awarded to students who are the children of missionaries. As a child, Edith had hoped that God would call her to mission work, but He didn’t. Creating a scholarship that would assist missionary families was a way to honor that childhood dream as well as her daughter.
“By establishing the Sara Holt Scholarship, we have a way to help missionary families,” she says. “The missionaries work so diligently for God’s kingdom, and we are honored to be able to invest in their children’s lives in this small way.”
Friends and family members have joined the Holts in adding to the scholarship fund. In addition, the couple plans to include the scholarship in their estate plan so that future Trevecca students will continue to benefit from it long into the future.
“Hopefully, being at Trevecca will be as impactful for them as it was for Gary and me,” Edith says. “God is good. We have a great support group of loving friends and family. Reaching out to help others has been and continues to be the best way for us to continue to live and serve the Lord.”
McGwire Portell, a Trevecca freshman who received the Sara Holt Memorial Scholarship, says the scholarship has allowed him to focus more on his studies rather than worrying about the future. More than that, it has helped his family who are currently serving as missionaries in Taipei, Taiwan.
“This scholarship has helped me to focus more on schoolwork rather than worrying about how I'm going to get the money for the next semester,” Portell says. “The scholarship has also helped my family focus on their ministry and not have to fret as much about their child paying off his school bills.”
Portell, who is majoring in elementary education, hopes to one day use his training as a teacher on the mission field.
“A career goal for me would have to be to teach overseas when I leave Trevecca,” he says. “I want to be a teacher, but my eyes are ultimately set on ministry through mission work.”
Interested in helping to support students like Portell through scholarships? Visit give.Trevecca.edu to give toward Trevecca’s scholarships.