Senior Kolton Wik Receives the Justin O’Keefe “Never Give Up” Memorial Scholarship Award
Congratulations to Kolton Wik, 2020 recipient of the Justin O’Keefe “Never Give Up” Memorial Scholarship Award. Kolton, a Highlands “Lifer,” was presented with this award on the team’s senior night. “Each and every game, I always know what I am going to get from Kolton, and that is his very best effort!” shares Coach Pridemore. “He has been a pleasure to coach.”
Each year, the O’Keefe family awards one senior a trophy and $1,000 in memory of their son Justin who played basketball at Highlands from elementary through varsity and lost his battle with cancer a few years ago. This player is selected for having the same values and “Never Give Up” attitude as Justin displayed throughout so many challenges in life.
This year, the award presentation was especially meaningful, as Justin is the nephew of Athletic Director Paul Pridemore, also a Highlands alumni and former Knights basketball player.
“Justin loved the game of basketball and excelled at it,” shared Coach Pridemore during the presentation. “He enjoyed life and cared deeply about others…I know this because he is my nephew, my sister’s son. Justin was diagnosed with cancer when he was 18 months old, and at that time had only a 20% chance of survival. He survived but had to have a kidney removed. That did not slow him down, and he lived his life to the fullest.”
“Justin was passionate about sports, his family, and most importantly, his Savior,” Coach Pridemore continued. “In 2014, Justin was diagnosed once again with cancer; this time it was brain cancer. The news was devastating, but we all knew he would attack and fight it like he did everything. His attitude was amazing! Whomever he came into contact with during that fight would be the ones who would leave encouraged. Justin passed away in 2016 leaving behind a void in all of us. I can say this: He NEVER gave up! As a family, we give a scholarship check in his memory every year to a basketball player that we believe has those same values.”
Highlands thanks the O’Keefe family for their faithful support of the Knights athletic program for so many years and for their encouragement to our players. Previous years’ Justin O’Keefe “Never Give Up” Memorial Scholarship Award recipients are:
2017 – Herman Robinson
2018 – Juano Coco
2019 – Ryan Lassen