Paul Fritz was never exposed to fine arts growing up. Now a father of three, he makes the once unfamiliar activity a requirement in the household.
"I see so much good that comes from the arts, just like sports and academia," Fritz said. "I have one rule in my house, you have to be in one sport, one artistic thing and have to pass. I feel like the arts, it teaches you creativity and to think in a way that has never been taught for you to think."
When evaluating the benefits of each activity, Fritz realized the scholarship opportunities for sports and academics are more common, and it seemed only the top performers were recognized with monetary support.
This year, $1,500 worth of scholarships were granted to Life Waxahachie High School seniors. Fritz has a goal to provide more funds in the coming years.
This was also not the first time Fritz fundraised for scholarships, but the second.
Fritz noticed the impact that former theater teacher, Laurel Bush, had on her students. The following year, Jacqueline Rose was added to the theater staff, and the RoseBush Scholarship was created by Fritz to give to theater students.
In the 2018-19 school year, the scholarship opportunity was expanded to choir students after Fritz was inspired by the determination and impact of another teacher. That individual would be Sidney "Skip" Redd, the Life Waxahachie choir director who founded that program as well as the band, color guard and drill team.
On April 6, 2017, Redd was on an end-of-the-year field trip with 106 of his students at Urban Air Trampoline Park in Waxahachie.
Even though Redd has been active on the trampoline since the age of 15, his head and neck broke his fall to a backflip.
This incident impacted the C6 and C7 of his cervical vertebrae. He was then told he would most likely be quadriplegic the rest of his life.
Redd underwent a nine-hour surgery, endured three weeks in intensive care followed by two and a half months of rehabilitation. He continued out-patient therapy for a year before he was released back to work.
"I feel like I'm a walking miracle. I feel that God has given me a healing touch so that I'm beyond what I was meant to be," Redd expressed.
By August 2018, Redd was back in class after doctors told him he would never walk again. His function capacity evaluation concluded that Redd is 19 percent impaired.
This year was the first to offer the Redd Inspiration Award Scholarship — and Redd matched the funds with $1,500. Unfortunately, scholarships were not given to a band member and an extra theater award was given due to lack of awareness.
The series of events allowed scholarship opportunities in several areas in fine arts such as band, drill team and color guard.
"It was such an inspiration to me and the students and how everything went together, I felt that God put it on my heart to do it for the choir," Fritz expressed.
Redd noted the music program that was established in 2012 started with 75 students in grades sixth through 12th. He currently projects next year there will be at least 85 students in the choir alone.
"I think it's wonderful and I think it's fantastic," Redd said about Fritz's initiative. "I haven't really thought about it until he approached me so that's where I got even more excited and I was very humbled that he named it after me. I just hope that it continues to grow so more students can feel the blessing of a scholarship."
One of the scholarship winners at Life, Steven Sparkman, will study theater and technical design at the University of North Texas. He elaborated on the impact these funds will make as he attends college in the fall.
"It's made a big impact. It's one of the only scholarships that I've received so far throughout this year," Sparkman elaborated. "I like the small, personal, in-school scholarships because it offers students that may not be able to get these international scholarships, company scholarships a better chance."
After a glass award and $500 scholarships were presented to the Life students at their banquets and end-of-the-year ceremonies, Fritz realized more money could be contributed.
Sparked from everyone else's hard work and determination, Fritz has tasked himself over the summer to establish a 501c3 nonprofit to be able to provide tax write-offs to those who fund fine arts scholarships.
"I hope to not only build the dollar amount but different areas," Fritz elaborated. "There's so much more in fine arts that are just as important."
The process of establishing a nonprofit is tedious and will cost someone money. A representative with Yeldell, Wilson, Wood & Reeve, P.C. certified public accountants, shared the method to create a nonprofit is done through an attorney that will help write articles to establish the organization as a trust, association or corporation.
The next step would be to apply for tax exemption status through the Internal Resources Revenue. The longest part of the process is to wait on the determination letter that will inform the applicant if the tax exemption was granted.
Right away is the best time to initiate the process since new organization must give financial statements for the current years and proposed budgets for the next two years, including a detailed breakdown of revenue and expenses.
A complete list and detailed walkthrough of steps to establish a nonprofit can be found at irs.gov.
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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450