SOMERSET COUNTY—“Promise me you will go on walks with me this summer? Even when it’s hot?” That was a voice memo on Christopher ‘Bub’ Ream’s computer, and the reason his mom decided to change a fundraiser for a scholarship fund in his honor from a golf tournament to a noncompetitive 5K.
“I just felt in my heart it’s what we needed to do,” said Pam Ream, Chris’s mom. “He loved his dog, Boomer, too, so we felt we need to make it pet friendly. Boomer’s the mascot so to speak for this event. Everyone knows Boomer.”
Christopher was 20-years old when he suddenly passed away in 2011. The Somerset Borough native was active in his high school, enjoyed football, and loved to write. He was known as the “gentle giant,” according to his mom.
“Everyone loved him; he was just an awesome guy, and I was lucky enough to call him my son. About a week before he died, he was sitting on the couch and turned to me and said, “‘Mom, I’m really happy. Everything is going so good.”
To help cope with their devastating loss, Chris’s parents started a scholarship fund through the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies in his honor. Every year Ream said she carefully reviews each applicant.
“It’s important that the student(s) selected have similar characteristics as Chris: they’re a good kid, respect their peers, enjoy writing, they’re coachable, and are involved.”
“When you start a scholarship fund with the Foundation, you can be as involved in the process as you like. We have funds that create their own applications and use their own review committees. We have funds that rely on the school district to make the selection. And we also have funds that rely on our Academic Alumni Committee, a volunteer group of retired local school teachers, to choose scholarship winners. Our goal is to satisfy the intent of the donor in every way as they prepare to help local students on their higher education journey,” said Katrina Perkosky, Development Associate.
Ream said over the last few years the fund has raised around $35,000 and has given away multiple scholarships to a student who plays football from Somerset High School.
“I never dreamed we would have the response we have had over the years,” said Ream. “We received a donation from a family who remembered a generous act Chris did for their mom years ago and wrote about it in a letter. Donating was their way of paying it forward. That’s the kind of impact Chris had on people. This scholarship and event is helping to keep his memory alive.”
Ream said the benefit will be held June 25, 2016, at 9:00 a.m. at the Somerset School Athletic Field Parking lot on South Franklin Avenue. Walkers are encouraged to bring their pets to join them on the walk.
“Doing a benefit every year helps us. It’s a way for us to remember Chris and share his passion for life with others,” said Ream. “Never take anything for granted. I’m glad I was always able to tell Chris I loved him every day.”
Ream said she was always involved in her kids and their athletic careers by volunteering and helping out, so by holding this benefit she said her son Chris wouldn’t expect anything else from her; it is another way she’s involved.
Ream hopes the walk is as successful as the golf tournaments because she would like to make it an annual event. To donate to the fund, please click on Chris.