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Hilltown Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, August 18, 2011

Inaugural golf tournament to raise funds for Spencer Memorial Scholarship at BKW

By Zach Simeone

HILLTOWNS — Two years after the death of James Wyatt Spencer shook the community, friends and family of the boy are planning a fall golf trip to raise funds for what they hope will become an annual scholarship for graduating Berne-Knox-Westerlo High School students. The first J. Wyatt Spencer Memorial Scholarship would be given in 2014.

Kelley Hess of Berne and her son, Jack Hurst, lived across the street from the Spencers in Knox when the boys were very young.

“Wyatt had some exceptionally good friends,” Hurst said. “We called them the ‘band of brothers.’ So, you can imagine the impact, not only because it was Bonnie and Jim’s only child, but because these were 12- and 13-year-old boys who were extremely close. Wyatt — you couldn’t meet a more exceptional kid. It’s been an incredible tragedy all around.”

In May of 2009, Wyatt Spencer was riding his new Yamaha Rhino around his home on Bozenkill Road when it flipped over on top of him, according to the Albany County Sheriff’s Department. Spencer, who was 13 at the time, died at the hospital that night due to head trauma. The family is in the early stages of a lawsuit with Gable Motorsports, the store from which they purchased the Rhino.

By hosting a golf tournament on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011, at Western Turnpike Golf Course in Guilderland, Spencer’s family and friends hope to channel their loss into something positive.

“The idea is to give them some place to put their grief,” Hess said. “One-hundred percent of proceeds will go to the scholarship fund. These are going to be building years.”

“I think it’s a great thing,” Wyatt’s father, James Spencer, said this week of the scholarship in his son’s name. “Kelley has gotten behind something Wyatt would really be proud of.”

James Spencer went on, “The idea is the faculty will choose a recipient that was like Wyatt — good at sports, with good grades, and involved in community service.”

He also said, “I wanted to get the kids involved. His whole class wants to volunteer. I guess Wyatt touched a lot of hearts. He was a great kid.”

Register now

Those interested in playing have to register by Sept. 17, and it’s $120 per person.

“It’s a four-person scramble with a shotgun start,” said Hess. “There’s lunch on the turn, and complimentary beverages. At the end is a buffet dinner and desserts.” A silent auction and lottery will also be held, along with a quick-chip contest.

Registration is from 10:30 to 11:45 p.m. the morning of the event, and the games begin at noon. Those who wish to skip the golf can attend just the dinner, which is $35 a person, and “will probably start at 5:30 p.m.,” Hess said.

“It’s a good way for, not only parents, but for the kids to do something positive,” she said. “It’s been tough for Bonnie and Jim, and it’s never really going to get better, but this is going to be an outlet. So many people knew Wyatt so well, so this is a way for the community to come together and honor this exceptional kid.”

His father said at the time of his death, “He was the greatest 13-year-old you could know, and 500-plus showing up to the memorial sure proved to me that he looked out for a lot of people. He always looked out for the little guy, stopped kids from picking on each other at school. Just a great, honest kid.”

Donations can be made in the form of checks, payable to the J. Wyatt Spencer Memorial Scholarship Fund, Post Office Box 348, Altamont, NY 12009.

To make alternative payment arrangements, contact James Spencer at 861-8575; Kelley Hess, at 872-9020; or Don Dennis, Wyatt’s golf coach, at 872-0685.

“Our hope and our dream is that this will become the in-house scholarship that BKW seniors hope to achieve,” Hess concluded. “We think that’s the best tribute we could give to Wyatt.”

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