Kelsey Cooper Scholarship

New Scholarship Fund Honors Memory of Kelsey Nicole Cooper


DATE: July 14, 2015    

CONTACT:  April Haynes, Director



Kelsey Cooper loved life. She was a natural-born “giver” whose selfless attitude touched everyone with whom she came in contact.  Now, her family and friends are continuing Kelsey’s legacy of giving by helping others pursue their dreams of a college education.  The Kelsey Nicole Cooper Scholarship Fund has been established at the Martinsville Area Community Foundation (“MACF”).  It will provide college scholarships to individuals from Martinsville and Henry County who possess strong leadership and volunteer qualities. 

A native of this area, Kelsey graduated from Bassett High School and later Virginia Tech. While in high school, Kelsey became involved in the CHILL (Communities Helping Improve Local Lives) program, a youth task force comprised of high school students from Martinsville and Henry County that promotes positive choices among their peers and the community. This is where her leadership skills began to develop and her volunteer service began.

Kelsey had an infectious love for children. She was a PYSL soccer coach for five year old children whom she called her “soccer babies.” She wrote and directed a Christmas play for children ages 2-18 at her church, Smith Memorial United Methodist and her pride and joy was her godchild, Paisley.

In addition, Kelsey was a staunch supporter of organizations dealing with autism awareness. She had a nephew, Tyler that had an autism spectrum disorder with whom she shared a special bond. Wherever they were, Kelsey made sure Tyler was included and accepted. She worked with many organizations and events that provided opportunities and raised funds for those with autism disorders.

Her best friend Christina Decker spoke about Kelsey and shared insight into her life: “More than her volunteer work, Kelsey genuinely cared about others. Many of her friends called her “mama” because she looked after them and was always “taking care of everything”.  She gave them motherly advice whether they wanted it or not. She once drove to Boone, North Carolina then to Williamsburg, Virginia then back to Boone in one weekend so she wouldn’t miss two graduations and a wedding.”

In December 2012, one of Kelsey’s closest friends was killed by a drunk driver. That experience affected her greatly, but she used it as a way to help others by giving a talk about the impacts of drunk driving to a CHILL community forum group.  Also, shortly after her friend passed away, she decided to write down her final wishes in the event that something happened to her.  She wrote a letter to her family and friends in January 2013 that included personal notes and arrangements in the event of her death. “She knew no one would know what to do if something happened to her,” said Christina. “She was again ‘taking care of everything’ as that was just the kind of person she was. She told me about the letter that she had hid in her drawer.”

For a short time, Kelsey lived in Charlotte, North Carolina and worked with NASCAR doing the Sprint Experience, but her heart was really in her hometown. She moved back in October 2014 and was set to begin working at Eastman Chemical. Kelsey was on her first day at Eastman when she passed away at the age of 24.

Kelsey’s mother, Karla Cooper shared some poignant words about Kelsey. “She wasn’t something that all of us can’t be. She was funny, kind, outspoken, vibrant, sometimes bossy but always real, full of love and ready to give of herself.”

Kelsey’s final wishes were to have her remains be spread on a beach somewhere. Even in death, Kelsey continued her legacy of giving as she was an organ donor.  On the morning of her death, Kelsey made a post on Instagram that read, “And so she decided to start living the life she’d imagined. Here’s to new chapters.”
Kelsey lived the life she imagined by giving of herself each day she was on earth. She lives on in the hearts of those she influenced and will continue her gifts through the Kelsey Nicole Cooper Scholarship Fund.

If you would like to help perpetuate Kelsey’s legacy and ultimately help others attend college, please consider contributing to the Kelsey Nicole Cooper Scholarship Fund.  Gifts can be made to Martinsville Area Community Foundation and mailed to P.O. Box 1124, Martinsville, VA 24114, with the name of the fund on the memo line. Donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law. Folks can also visit www.martinsvilleareacommunityfoundation.org and click on “Donate Now". The Cooper family will be notified of all donations made to the scholarship.