Foundation offers scholarships for Arizona residents 25 years and older

The words most often spoken by a Valley man named George Keown were "keep your chin up, kid." After he lost his battle to cancer, his family turned that advice into his legacy.

"My dad was the hardest worker I've ever seen," said Peggy Baze, his eldest daughter. "He's where I get my drive."

George Keown was a sailor, a family man, and a machinist by trade who worked his way up in life. Everyone called him GK.

"My dad was my mentor, my hero -- he was everything to me," said Baze. "He just meant the world to me, so it was a huge loss."

In 2017, a month after his 70th birthday, GK was diagnosed with cancer.

"Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that you can only get through asbestos," said Baze. "It's an aggressive cancer and we lost my dad within a year of his diagnosis." 

Baze describes being stuck in her sadness, shouded by grief. It took a year to realize her dad would have wanted more.

"One Saturday morning out of nowhere when I was thinking all of these thoughts, feeling like I had let my dad down because I hadn't started my healing process, I heard his words that he used to say to us all the time," said Baze. "Anytime we would face adversity, he would tell us to keep our chin up."

By the end of that day, Baze had created the GK Legacy Foundation, a non-traditional scholarship program for Arizona residents 25 years and older.

"Through this Keep Our Chin Up Scholarship Fund, we are able to help people that don't know that there is help out there for them in situations where not only are they're having to pay for their school, they're raising their families, they're holding down a job," Baze explained.

Cynthia Carrizoza is studying to become a scientist at ASU. A single mother of a 16-year-old, Carrizoza says she stumbled upon the foundation website, the words on the page instantly spoke to her.

"I felt like [GK] was talking to me, telling me to keep going, to keep progressing, keep going to school -- whatever is going on, just keep doing it," Carrizoza said.

Scholarships are awarded twice a year in February and September. They are merit-based applications and are submitted online. A recipient can receive anywhere from $500 to $5000. 

Since the foundation's inception last September, $100,000 have already been awarded. The entire family is involved, and Baze says that has helped her heal - it help keep her father's legacy alive.

"It's rewarding to me be able to honor him in this way," said Baze. "I know that he's proud that we're doing it as a family he's proud of the mission I know this in my heart."

The foundation is starting a second scholarship fund in honor of Arizona frontline healthcare workers.

Visit the GK Legacy Foundation's website:

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