How One Scholarship Is Providing Opportunities for Kids with Special Needs

For kids with special needs, a trip to camp or a therapeutic summer activity can be a life-changing experience. Bethany’s Butterflies Scholarship, which started last year, has the goal of making that quintessential summer pastime accessible for more young people with special needs.

Bethany Mazur was a young woman who had a special bond with Travis, an autistic boy she worked with for more than a year. When she passed away in 2015 as the result of a car accident, she left behind a loving family and fiancé, who decided they wanted to do good in Bethany’s honor. Her fiancé’s family had the idea for a scholarship, and Bethany’s Butterflies was born. The name was inspired by a moment prior to Bethany’s death when, after a surgery, she received flowers with butterflies, and she mentioned feeling like a butterfly herself, “because of where she was in her life at the time,” says Bethany’s mom, Kim.

The scholarship began last summer and provided $350 to the selected student: a young boy who used it to go to equine therapy. In the future, Kim Mazur, who oversees the scholarship, hopes they’ll be able to offer multiple scholarships a year. Funding comes from donations, raffles and, most importantly, from a yearly talent show. Mazur plans the event and says the talent comes from across the state and country, and 100 percent of funds raised go to Bethany’s Butterflies.

The St. Croix Community Foundation, which selects a recipient, contacts local schools (this year the scholarship will go to someone in the Valley) and asks them to inform families of eligible students. Applicants fill out forms and write a letter. The recipient is chosen based on the benefit the young person will get from their chosen use of the scholarship.