The Rehoboth Beach Bears presented $1,000 scholarships to three students during the senior awards program at Cape Henlopen High School. The deserving recipients were Erycca Curry and Leonora Demerutis, both of Rehoboth Beach, and Richie Dillard of Millsboro.
“The scholarships are merit-based, not based on financial need,” said Kenny Mahan, scholarship committee co-chair and board vice president for the Rehoboth Beach Bears. “We wanted to recognize these students for their commitment to make their school and their community a more welcoming place to be.”
The students were asked to answer questions about their involvement with Cape High’s Gay Straight Alliance, as well as their activities to promote inclusion and diversity. Applications also had to include a recommendation from at least one teacher and one from another student.
Teachers Greg Berman said, “Leonora shows great interest in LGBTQ+ advocacy and is always interested in learning more about ways to show pride and support others. Leonora is a great voice and advocate for all students!”
Dillard has been an advocate for years, having been an instrumental part of starting a GSA at Beacon Middle School. Curry is very active in the GSA at Cape as a board member, as well as volunteering at Edwards Christmas Village and helping children with mental health issues.
“This year’s scholarship recipients are truly extraordinary people. We can hardly wait to see what they accomplish next,” said Mahan.
Scholarship funds are paid directly to the institution where the students will continue their education. Curry will be attending Delaware State University in the fall, while Demerutis will be studying at the University of Delaware. Dillard will join the incoming class at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston.
Most of the scholarship funding comes from events hosted by the RBB, whose signature gathering is the Rehoboth Beach Bears Weekend held each September. The four-day social event brings together more than 300 participants from all over the Mid-Atlantic region. Other funding comes from dine and donate events at local restaurants. Private donations are also accepted and appreciated. Since the program was started in 2016, the Bears have awarded scholarships to 19 graduates of local high schools.
The Rehoboth Beach Bears are part of the LGBTQ+ community and can best be defined as “a large part of the community, being men of a larger size, most of them with facial hair and all of them with a jovial perspective on life.” The Rehoboth Beach Bears Inc. is a 501c3 community-based social organization working to better the LGBTQ+ community in the Rehoboth Beach area.