Sheldon Scholar Thomas Denny.jpg

Thomas Denny is the first recipient of the Officer Jordan Harris Sheldon Memorial Scholarship.

Mitchell Community College student Thomas Denny is the first recipient of the scholarship created in memory of Mooresville Police Department Officer Jordan Sheldon.

Denny is currently a cadet in the Basic Law Enforcement Training program at MCC and will graduate this month.

The Jordan Harris Sheldon Memorial Scholarship was created after the MPD K-9 officer was gunned down in a traffic stop.

The scholarship is one of the charitable organizations that arose from Sheldon’s death in May of last year.

Sheldon’s brother, Carson Ledford, said this scholarship was intended to help cadets like Denny further their desire to be a law enforcement officer. And for Denny, the scholarship is particularly meaningful since it honors Sheldon. “When I found out it was Officer Sheldon, it really meant a lot to me to receive that,” he said. “Mooresville is one of the agencies I will apply to because he was there. It really meant a lot.”

As with the case of many students, receiving a scholarship helps relieve Denny’s financial burden and makes it easier for him to complete his training.

Ledford, and another driving force behind the scholarship, Kayla Vega, said this scholarship will be a remembrance of Sheldon for years to come.

Vega, a singer/songwriter in Mooresville, got involved with the effort to remember Sheldon. Vega met Sheldon through the Adopt-A-Cop program, and from the onset of their friendship, he encouraged her to follow her dreams of a singing career. “He was a very sweet guy and I was devastated,” she said. “I didn’t know what to do.”

She decided her music was a way to honor Sheldon and raise money at the same time. She wrote a song called “Home” with the idea of donating the proceeds in Sheldon’s honor. After talking with Ledford and others, the idea of a memorial scholarship came about, and from that point on, Vega organized events to bring in money.

Not only did the concerts raise money, they were a way for the community to grieve. “Seeing the community together not only to support but to heal together was overwhelming,” she said.

She said supporting a way for a student to get financial help in their efforts to become a law enforcement officer was one of the best ways to pay tribute to Sheldon. “I hope that someone gets to fulfill their dreams,” Vega said.

Denny said this scholarship will do just that.

The rigorous course can last for up to eight months for night students like Denny. BLET is also offered over four months during the spring, summer and fall semesters for day students.

“It takes a lot of dedication and hard work,” Denny said. “It’s not an easy task.”

However, he said, the faculty at MCC makes an impact. “I didn’t expect instructors to go above and beyond the way that they do to help us understand.”

The experience has only solidified his goal to work in law enforcement.

Ledford and Vega said this is what they hoped for when the scholarship was established.

The goal is still to endow the scholarship so it will be around for years to come.

James Hogan, MCC’s vice president for advancement, said contributions are needed to make that happen. “Our goal is to grow this endowment to $100,000,” he said. “As we’ve worked with Officer Sheldon’s family, their goal from the beginning was for this scholarship to make something positive out of something so terrible. It is so humbling to see our friends, neighbors and businesses support this effort and enable Mitchell to award multiple scholarships. Their spirit of giving is generating so much goodness in our community — and we hope, healing for Officer Sheldon’s family,” he said.

Vega said she plans to continue to do what she can to make that happen. Once the restrictions from the pandemic are lifted, she said, she plans to start hosting events again. “We are going to start fundraising for his legacy,” she said. “We want to help as many cadets as possible go through training.”

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