Luke Gonsioroski could affect people in a matter of minutes.
Now, the former Baker quarterback’s legacy will have a lasting effect on high school students across the country. Operation HOPE, a non-profit organization based out of Lubbock, Texas, has announced the Luke Gonsioroski Character Award, which will be given annually to a high school senior who best exemplifies the qualities that helped Gonsioroski create lasting friendships across Montana.
Dr. John Thomas, the founder of Operation HOPE, and Gonsioroski’s family hope to deliver the inaugural scholarship this summer. The first award will be a one-time scholarship worth a minimum of $5,000.
“Next year, we get to hear the recipient speak to what it would mean to get this award,” Dr. Thomas said. “(Gonsioroski) was a kid that lived his life well, and I want us to challenge other young people to live their life the best.”
Gonsioroski’s impact on Montana stretched from border to border. The former three-sport star athlete at Baker developed bonds with fellow athletes across Montana before expanding his reach into Texas. The Class B all-state quarterback committed in January 2016 to continue his career at Texas Tech.
“I’m excited to take the next step, I guess,” Gonsioroski then told MTN Sports. “It’s always been a dream of mine, and to have the opportunity, I couldn’t be more excited.”
Gonsioroski was also considering Montana, Montana State, North Dakota and Army, but he felt an immediate connection with Red Raiders coach Kliff Kingsbury.
After a second battle with cancer, Gonsioroski passed away on Aug. 7, 2017.
In the months following his passing, Gonsioroski’s impact across the country became more evident as his family was overwhelmed with support. Kingsbury and Texas Tech recognized the Gonsioroski family – dad Charles, mom Katina, and sisters Hannah and Hope – during a nationally televised game against Oklahoma State last fall, announcing the Luke Gonsioroski Memorial Scholarship Endowment on Sept. 30, 2017.
Additionally, Operation HOPE announced the Luke Gonsioroski Character Award on Nov. 3, 2017. Dr. Thomas met Gonsioroski on Jan. 8, 2017 in the Denver airport when Gonsioroski was en route to Lubbock for his official visit to Texas Tech.
“He touched my life,” Dr. Thomas said, “and I only met him for about 10 minutes.”
To be eligible for the Luke Gonsioroski Character Award, students must be nominated by their school’s athletic director. Athletic directors are encouraged to nominate two seniors for the one-time $5,000 scholarship, which will be awarded in August. Nominations can be submitted to Operation HOPE at 1120 W. Loop 289, Suite 227, Lubbock, TX, 79416 or Baker Public Schools, C/O Dave Breitbach, PO Box 659, Baker, MT 59313.
Athletic directors can also contact MTN Sports’ Slim Kimmel at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how to get in contact with Gonsioroski’s father, Charles.
For more information on the Operation HOPE Luke Gonsioroski Character Award or to donate to the scholarship fund, please click here.