Gary Bassett, chairman of the Moral Courage Foundation, announced Thursday that a $25,000 college scholarship will be given to an area high school senior beginning this school year.

Each year the foundation will select a deserving student for the award, he said.

“We are striving to strengthen and reward moral courage in our community in a tangible way,” Bassett said. “Honesty, compassion, integrity and service to others will will be recognized and rewarded.”

The Moral Courage Foundation, an 18-member organization, comprised of area school superintendents, Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce and area church leaders, was formed this summer. Bassett said area minister Dean Kilmer’s book entitled, “Igniting the Moral Courage of America,” has been a driving force in the endeavor.

Advisory board leader Paul O’Rear has been tireless in his efforts, with Bassett also noting that area church and school representatives have given generously of their time and effort.

“I believe there are more good people than evil people in the world, but because of political correctness and relative truth, good people have been forced into a corner and have become afraid to speak out for what is right,” Kilmer said. “It’s like throwing a rock into a lake - it creates a ripple effect and if (people with integrity) will do what they can do and speak out, it will create a similar ripple effect in our nation.

“We’ve created an environment in America today where people who want to pull society down are the ones who have the voice,” Kilmer said.

Bassett said the foundation board has strong leadership with former Dallas County Commissioner Roy Orr as vice chairman, state Rep. Jim Pitts as secretary and Mary Kay Foundation president Mike Lunceford as treasurer.

“The mission of the foundation is simple,” Bassett said. “It is to inspire young people to live up to moral standards of the Bible. If we encourage young people to adopt good moral values and integrity, they will have the ability to make good life-time choices.”

Bassett said Waxahachie High School and Cornerstone Eagle Advantage students are eligible to receive the scholarship as well as members of the many area churches represented on the advisory board.

There also will be recognition given to deserving students at the elementary and intermediate school level.

Bassett said there are broader expectations for the foundation’s impact.

“We feel that the presentation of the scholarships to deserving seniors will challenge high school freshmen, sophomores and juniors to also live up to those moral standards,” Bassett said.

“We are looking for kids who demonstrate compassion, integrity, service to others and who stand by their commitments,” O’Rear said. “What a novel idea - rewarding kids for being good.”

Bassett said there will be a kickoff rally at 7 p.m. Sept. 15 at the Waxahachie High School Fine Arts Center featuring area leaders and students.

Sponsoring churches include Bethel United Methodist Church, Central Presbyterian Church, College Street Church of Christ, Cowboy Church of Ellis County, Farley Street Baptist Church, First Assembly of God, First Baptist Church, First Christian Church, First United Methodist Church, Frontier Cowboy Church of Ellis County, Heritage Baptist Church, Straight Way Non-Denominational Church, University Assembly of God and Waxahachie Bible Church.

Further information may be obtained from the foundation’s Web site, located online at MoralCourageFoundation.org.

E-mail Paul at paul.gauntt@waxahachiedailylight.com