The meaning of the Terez A. Paylor scholarship endowment

In her shock and agony after the sudden death in February of her fiancé, Terez A. Paylor, Ebony Reed had some hazy awareness of the flood of tributes and outpouring of condolences from across the country and Kansas City in particular. .

She knew people were saying wonderful things about the life and legacy of Terez, the beloved former Kansas City Star writer who remained in her adopted area even after leaving The Star in 2018 to cover the story. NFL for Yahoo Sports.

It’s just that she hasn’t been able to absorb much for a long time. And the truth is, she’s still trying to deal with it.

“But I feel like I’m heading more to a place where I’m ready to celebrate it,” she said. “And for me, that’s what Friday will be.”

Friday was Terez A. Paylor Day in Kansas City. And on to punctuate it with the removal of his press seat at Arrowhead Stadium, where the Chiefs also presented a check for $ 10,000 to Howard University’s Terez A. Paylor scholarship fund, launched in partnership by The Star. , Yahoo Sports and The Wall Street. Journal (for which Ebony works).

But above all, Friday was an extraordinary stage around the rest of the celebration: The scholarship contributions have already eclipsed $ 100,000, as Ebony announced via Twitter on Friday morning, allowing her to be endowed.

This means, as she said in her announcement, that it will never go away.

Which underscores, of course, the fact that Terez will never really leave us either.

Now, it’s unclear how many scholarships with such distinct origins might exist, especially at the smaller number of historically black colleges and universities, Ebony noted.

But it’s certainly reasonable to suggest that Terez is again on a rare level and in distinguished company which (courtesy of Peyton Manning’s Peyback Foundation) includes former NFL stars Doug Williams (Grambling State) and Harold. Carmichael (Southern) and trail legend Wilma Rudolph (State of Tennessee).

This development, however, is a testament to something else as well, including Ebony’s iron drive to realize a vision Terez presented to her in the summer of 2020 shortly after one of her uncles died from COVID- 19.

It was a moment of reflection for the couple. And it sparked conversations about everything from their futures and estate planning to just getting their “affairs” in order.

In the middle of that, one night, Terez blurted out, “You know, one day I would really like to have a scholarship in my name in Howard.”

That’s because Terez has always been grateful for his education and broader experiences at Howard, where he graduated in 2006 with a degree in Written Journalism with Distinction before soon starting a 12-year tenure at The Star.

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Ebony Reed, left, and Sharmyn Elliott, fiancee and father of Terez A. Paylor embraced as Kansas City Chiefs president Mark Donovan, right, spoke to the pair before the Chiefs paid homage to Paylor by withdrawing his seat from the press gallery and presenting a check to the Terez A. Paylor Scholarship at Howard University in a ceremony Friday, August 27 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. Tammy Ljungblad [email protected]

When Ebony asked her how much he thought it might cost to organize a scholarship, she recalls, Terez estimated maybe $ 25,000.

Neither of them thought they could afford it, and certainly not in the short term as a young couple with no generational wealth.

But at the very heart of Terez’s being, she said, wanted to be of service to others. So he still left her a powerful suggestion, like, “Yeah, but someday that would be great, Ebony.”

So she said, “I was just, like, ‘OK, I’m going to put it on the list.’ “

He rose to the top of the list, alas, much sooner than anyone would have liked.

But it also became a cause she needed and an idea that touched her parents as well.

In a statement made during the campaign announcement, Terez’s parents Sharmyn Elliott and Ava Paylor-Elliott (both of whom attended Friday night’s pre-game ceremony in the press box), stated that they “couldn’t think of a better way to recognize, honor and cement Terez’s legacy and contributions as a sports journalist than to establish this scholarship in his name at HU.

“By virtue of this scholarship, we hope that our son’s legacy will continue and inspire future black sports journalists to employ the tenacity and perseverance embodied by Terez, and to uphold those values ​​that he embodied by pledging to be the best it can be. and never be overworked.

So now there is a magnificent tribute to Terez in the form of the endowed scholarship itself, to be awarded to students majoring in sports journalism who have a minimum of 3.0 GPA, but also how it was funded.

When Ebony thinks about how grateful she is to see this idea blossom, she thinks of the engagements of The Journal, Yahoo, and The Star. And the many companies that have offered matching giving programs in which their employees have participated. And, of course, BreakingT’s All-Juice Team gear, all of the proceeds of which go to the stock market.

KCM_TEREZTRIBUTE082721tll03
Clark Hunt, chief executive officer of the Kansas City Chiefs, paid tribute to sports reporter Terez A. Paylor, whose family watched, in a ceremony Friday, August 27 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. The Chiefs removed the seat from the Paylor press box and presented a check for $ 10,000 to the Terez A. Paylor Scholarship at Howard Tammy Ljungblad University [email protected]

But she also thinks of the hundreds of others who have contributed.

They were young and old, people he or she or his parents knew… and many of them had never met.

People who gave $ 10 because it was what they could afford and it mattered to them.

All of this in a matter of months in the midst of a pandemic and in the midst of her own mourning that at times left her wondering if she could get through a reunion without suddenly being in the throes of a “full cry-fest.” This included then coordinating with Howard’s people.

“They must have been extremely patient with me because some weeks when I was in contact I could barely speak because I was still in mourning,” she said. “But I was like, ‘Give me the numbers. I need to know where we are. I need to know what is exceptional. I need to know who to call to make sure they send this check. “

The result, she hopes, will make the Kansas City community proud.

But he can certainly be proud in another way.

Because of everyone who has watched over her and her since Terez died.

“I want people to know about this community and how wonderful it is and why I would want to stay,” she said.

Ebony moved from Boston, Missouri to be with Terez in 2017, and then from Columbia to Kansas City in 2019. In 2020, they bought and built a house together.

You would have thought she had been here her entire life, based on what happened after Terez died.

Her direct messages on Twitter, she said, “were on fire… There were so many people in this community who wrote to me that they had never met me, and some of them met me. still write.

One day, men she had never met surprised her by shoveling the driveway. The wife of one of them quickly called and said, “We are your neighbors and we are going to clean up this alley. ”

A FedEx woman picked up Terez’s work gear from Yahoo and stood in her driveway and prayed with her.

When she placed a take out order at the Red Door Grill in Liberty but took two hours to get dressed because she was having a bad day, they redid her food when she arrived; they didn’t want her to eat cold food or feel bad for taking so long to get there.

At First Watch in Shoal Creek, which Terez went to all the time, they put little notes in his take out orders so that “you know we’re thinking of you.”

The welcoming ways of the city, of course, started before that.

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Terez Paylor and Ebony Reed attend a friend’s wedding in Boston in 2019. Submitted photo

On a Southwest Airlines flight from Washington, DC, in January 2020, she spotted Mayor Quinton Lucas. Knowing that Terez had spoken to her recently, she introduced herself and formed a relationship with him. In the process that day, she also met Wendy Doyle, CEO of United WE (formerly Women’s Foundation) and eventually came to join the group’s board of directors which also contributed to its sustainability.

She is also grateful to her grief counselor, something she wants people to know because of the value she found in therapy on her journey to “whatever the new Ebony” after her tragic loss.

In the coming months, Ebony will be working with Louise Story on a book on the history of race and money in our country. The book is to be published by HarperCollins and titled “The Black Dollar”. And she sees it in some ways as an effort to advance the values ​​she and Terez were aligned with.

As consumed as it will be with it, it will also remain focused on the stock market, because the more the principle grows, the more interest it can generate and the more opportunities it can create.

In fact, she hopes that over the next ten years the endowment can exceed $ 1 million.

Especially since she believes that the more people see the quality of the students receiving the scholarship, the more they will want to be part of the “Terez A. Paylor movement for future sports journalists”.

It’s a movement that has supported her in her worst times, with a little help from family, friends and strangers.

And that result will be another way we can all remember Terez… and through which she will stay connected to him forever.

“As long as I live,” she said, “I will continue to fundraise to some extent for this.”

Kansas City Star Stories

Vahe Gregorian has been a sports columnist for The Kansas City Star since 2013 after 25 years at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He has covered a wide range of sports, including 10 Olympics. Vahe studied English at the University of Pennsylvania and received his Masters degree from Mizzou.

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