By Cameron Rasmusson
Patrick Orton was an individual who followed his dreams relentlessly right to the moment of his untimely and tragic death.
Now his memory is paving the road for other dreamers to follow in his footsteps.
The Live Your Dreams scholarship, a fund set up by parents George and Kristina Orton in Patrick’s memory, issued its first scholarship after a year and a half of pursuing 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. The $1,000 scholarship will help 18-year-old Emily McKay pursue her goal of making the world a better place as a pediatric nurse. She will soon leave Sandpoint for Boise State University to make that dream a reality.
“When you read about these kids and the amazing things they’re doing, it’s very, very heartwarming,” said Kristina Orton.
McKay spotted the opportunity on a list of available scholarships handed out to Sandpoint High School seniors. She immediately connected with the Live Your Dreams mission and Patrick’s life. When the Orton family received her application, they were impressed by her passion and her desire to help others in need.
“I knew [pursuing this] might be difficult and there may be obstacles, but you have to push through it if you really want it,” McKay said.
For her part, McKay knows what it’s like to feel vulnerable and uncertain while battling medical issues. She was born with a condition that placed her knees too high on her legs, making dislocation a frequent and painful reality for her. She’s required several surgeries to correct the problem—a reality that’s haunted her as she’s pursued her love of dance.
However, it also prompted her to redouble her efforts in pursuit of a nursing career. Already, she’s shadowed professionals in the field, and thanks to a program through the high school, she already holds credentials as a certified nursing assistant.
“That’s really helped me make my decision to go into the medical field,” she said. “I’ve seen it from both ends.”
It’s just one of the reasons why the Ortons selected McKay as the first beneficiary despite competition from 30 other terrific candidates. The selflessness and purity of her vision impressed both them and fellow board member Cynthia Mason.
“Passing out the scholarship was the fulfillment of our dream,” said George Orton. “It was quite a journey to get to the point where we could hand out that first scholarship.”