CALHOUN COUNTY, Mich. — Ty Larson Fuller was an "awesome welder," his mom Julia said.
He was so good that he won competitions while at Athens High School and later earned his welding certification at the Regional Manufacturing Technology Center at Kellogg Community College.
“He was a hard worker,” Julia said. “He was really good at operating the tractor. He won competitions for shooting with Pheasants Forever. He welded things on the farm for us and for neighbors.”
Ty also loved video games, she said. One night, in March 2019 he went to play video games with his friends and he never returned home.
“There was a white out. It was a snowstorm,” Julia said about the night Ty died. “A lot of people drove by and didn’t even see him. He was like 10 feet off the road.”
Julia said the roads in Calhoun County were covered with snow and her son's car spun out and hit some trees.
He was 19 years old.
“I was the second one there,” Julia said. “So, you know, I had to call the family members but it was, it was shocking for all of us ‘cause he was a good kid.”
Julia said the family was devastated. She was too. However, months later, she created a scholarship in Ty's honor to keep his memory alive.
The Ty Larson Fuller Memorial Scholarship was set up through the Battle Creek Community Foundation. She said it’s for students who want to attend RMTC to learn trades like welding, plumbing, electrical wiring, among others.
“We’re really just looking for students that are really passionate about learning one of these trades and not have the resources to go to school there,” Julia said.
The scholarship was also set up in partnership with the Family Enrichment Center, which supports young people in transition like foster, adopted and kinship-care kids, Julia said.
The scholarship is meant for them, she added.
“They have the most limited resources,” said Family Enrichment Center CEO Teresa Thrash. “Once you become 18 you no longer qualify for the benefits from the state. So you could just be left out there and they’re already having traumas and struggles through life.”
Thrash added that the organization has found in its research that most foster kids or those raised by relatives don’t go to college. And if they do, they don’t finish.
“The reason why this scholarship is so important is that you can apply up to the age of 24,” Thrash said. “So we hopefully can get you to re-engage back in education. And we specifically chose this not only because in honor of Ty and what he did at RMTC but you can get certification in something and have a career for life.”
So far, Julia and the Enrichment Center have raised $10,000 for the scholarship. They’re goal is to raise $25,000 this year so they can help as many people as possible, Julia said.
The FEC board, which Julia is a part of, is accepting applications now, she said. She hopes everyone will apply despite how they did academically in high school. Ty wasn't the best student, she said, but he had a passion for welding and that's all they're looking for.
“We’re glad we did it,” Julia said about the scholarship. “We’d like to keep Ty’s memory alive and find other kids that have a passion for welding or [computer numerical control] or plumbing or one of the trades.”