Madilynn Kendricks can speak matter-of-factly about her father’s death now, using her hands to demonstrate how his police motorcycle was hit by a pickup truck 13 years ago.
She has recently won a college scholarship in his memory, thanks to an organization that has helped her family for years.
“They just do a lot with that organization,” she said. “They’re probably the best organization for [families of] fallen officers.”
Kendricks will use the scholarship, sponsored by the ICMA-RC Memorial Scholarship Fund, to help pay tuition at Meredith College, where she will be a sophomore this fall. She has chosen a double major in math and business with the encouragement of her mother and stepfather.
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Her close relationship with her parents has had an impact on her life in more than just her choice of studies. They have supported her through the toughest of times. When she was just six years old, her father, Rodney, a police patrolman in Lubbock, Texas, was killed in an accident while escorting a funeral procession. Her mother married her stepfather three years later, and the family relocated from Texas to Leesville.
“I’ve always clicked with him,” Kendricks said of her stepfather. Growing up in “a complete blended family” with her sister, a stepsister and a stepbrother, she had support not only from her family but also from the law-enforcement community.
“There’s been so much support in that area, it’s unreal,” she said. Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS), an organization dedicated to the families of officers killed in the line of duty, helped her family over the years.
“We call it ‘the club you never want to be in,’” she said.
The agency sent her Christmas and birthday gifts when she was younger, and sent her to Outward Bound camp when she was a teen. It was through COPS that Kendricks received the scholarship.
That support was crucial three years ago, when tragedy struck her family again. Her stepbrother Trevor, who had autism, passed away from a combination of respiratory illnesses.
“I just wanted to keep going and deal with it how I could,” she recalled. Although she said she prefers to cope with grief on her own, talking with her family helped.
Kendricks’ determination to keep moving forward is evident in her plans for the future. She is spending her summer as an administrative intern at SAS, where she hopes to work full-time after graduation.
Being at Meredith allows Kendrics to visit home often, which she does more frequently since her parents adopted her little brother from Ethiopia.
She plans to continue to be a part of the community that has helped her so much.
“When I get older, I definitely want to get involved with it more,” she said.