‘Do Better, Be Better’ scholarship hopes to honor Kickapoo grad shot and killed in 2021

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– Two local seniors received a surprise from a local family. They are the recipients of the “Do Better, Be Better” scholarship.

It’s an award in honor of Chandler Sweaney, a Kickapoo graduate who was shot and killed in February last year. Fourteen months after Sweaney’s death, his mother Shelly Larrick has been through all the emotions.

But today she said she felt something new.

“I think I actually felt joy in my heart,” Larrick said. “I’m not sure I’ve had that (feeling) since then.”

That feeling of joy began with a trip to Kickapoo High School, where Sweaney sang and played tuba.

“One of the few things that really helps ease that pain and grief of losing a child is being able to give back,” Larrick said.

One of the two scholarship recipients, Katelyn Penkalski, said she had no idea she would get the scholarship. Penkalski is in the Kickapoo choir, along with fellow recipient Anna Riemenschneider.

Penkalski and Riemenschneider said Do Better, Be Better is something they are proud to be a part of.

“Hearing that story from his son, you know, strikes a chord with you, and it has to do with the music,” Riemenschneider said.

“Do Better, Be Better is something anyone can apply to any of their passions, not just choir or music,” Penkalski said. “It’s definitely important for people to keep those thoughts in mind, whether it’s an academic passion or a sporting passion or something like that.”

For Larrick, Chandler’s mother, the scholarship represents hope that Chandler’s legacy will live on for many years at Kickapoo. Chandler’s mother and father said they will continue to offer scholarships each year.

“I smelled Chandler in the parking lot as I pulled over,” Larrick said. “I pulled out the certificates and kind of heard in my ear, ‘Good job mum.'”

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