A Portland athlete was honored Saturday, May 28, with the first annual Chris Bendle Basketball Scholarship.
At the event, held at the Portland Community College Cascade gymnasium, Emily Fortin was presented a $1500 check from Lisa Bendle, mother of Chris Bendle.
Two other scholarship recipients, Ash Aughterson and Jordan Hudspith, are in Australia and were not able to attend the presentation. The transfer students will be playing for PCC.
Bendle, who was a 20-year-old Scappoose High School and Portland Community College basketball player, died May 28, 2020 in an automobile crash on Scappoose-Vernonia Highway, near Pond Drive.
Lisa Bendle was pleased to see friends and family turn out to the event.
"I am thrilled with the turnout," Bendle said. "We had people that I hadn't seen for a while. All these people have supported Greg and I in this journey that we've been on, from something that was extremely tragic to something that is really positive." Bendle continued, "We know Christopher is here today with us. We feel him. I'm sure that he's smiling at us right now."
Bendle praised her son for being a student athlete.
"We know how much work it takes to be a student athlete, from going to school, taking extra classes, keeping your grades up, most of the time working off to the side," she said.
Fortin, who lives in Portland, was happy to receive the scholarship at the Saturday presentation.
"I am just really grateful and thankful that I received it," Fortin said. "It's awesome." Fortin will play her junior year at PCC, Cascade campus.
One of Fortin's coaches is Graham McFall, who coaches at the Cascade campus.
"It's been a really awesome experience, being able to spend time with the family," McFall said, noting the event celebrates the life of Chris.
Bendle is looking forward to making the scholarship presentations an annual event.
"We're hoping that we get still more donations coming from the local communities," Bendle said, adding that donations come from businesses and individuals.
In addition to thanking Portland Community College for all their support, Bendle said, "We just really want to say thank you to all the people and businesses that have come forth and donated, especially in Columbia County. Without that, we would not be here today, for sure."
Speaking of her son, Chris, Bendle told the Spotlight, "He loved helping people, and this is one way that we can honor him by doing that."
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