The Jeffery R. Swanson Memorial Scholarship provides an annual award to a Parkersburg High School graduating senior. The fund was established by Jeff's parents, Larry and Barbara Swanson, to honor their son for his courage, determination, loyalty, compassion and enthusiasm for life.
Jeffrey Robert Swanson was born March 9, 1971, in Rochester, Michigan, and moved to Parkersburg in 1974 when he was three years old. He had an older brother, Scott, and a younger brother, Greg. Jeff attended Vienna Elementary School and participated in baseball, football, and soccer with the Vienna Recreation program. At Jackson Junior High School, he played football as a lineman and participated in several school plays. He loved horses and was always trying to find good homes for stray dogs that came into his neighborhood.
A virus struck Jeff's heart in 1984, and he received a heart transplant at the Cleveland Clinic in 1985. At that time, he was the clinic's youngest heart transplant recipient and the 10th nationally under the age of 21.
Jeff was determined to return quickly to participating in sports and to delivering the Parkersburg Sentinel in his North Hills neighborhood after his transplant. He was the goalie for the first Parkersburg High School soccer team and was featured on Scholastic Sports America as well as in Sports Illustrated for Kids. He graduated from Parkersburg High School in 1989 and was a 1995 graduate of Ohio State University, where he was a member of SAE fraternity.
Upon receiving his degree in physical education, Jeff taught for three years in Georgetown, South Carolina, coached soccer at an area high school and was a lifeguard. He owned and operated a thrill ride in Myrtle Beach, was president of his homeowner's association, and was president of the Myrtle Beach Area SAE Alumni Association.
Jeff was actively involved in organ donation programs throughout the country. He spoke to many organizations on the importance of organ donation and the success of transplantation. He fully appreciated his "second chance at life" and was an inspiration to others awaiting transplantation. Jeff competed in many National Kidney Foundation Transplant Olympic Games, focusing on swimming, running, and slalom skiing. He was named most outstanding male athlete in Aspen, Colorado, during the Transplant Winter Olympics in 1995. Jeff lived in Myrtle Beach, was married to his wife Lynne, and had a three-year old daughter Paige when he died on November 18, 2002, while preparing for his second heart transplant. Jeff was an avid Buckeye fan, a loyal friend, loving brother, son, husband, and father.
Through this memorial scholarship, Jeff's family and friends hope to leave a lasting legacy to the community that gave him so much encouragement and support over the years.