Arial awarded Debra Kirkland Memorial Scholarship

Staff Writer
Brownwood Bulletin

Special to the Bulletin

Madison Arial, a Brownwood High School senior, has been named the first recipient of the Debra Kirkland Memorial Scholarship.

The award was created to honor a Brownwood ISD senior who embodied the compassionate and enthusiastic spirit of Kirkland, a 25-year BISD employee who died in 2016. This was the first year the scholarship became available to a BHS senior who had served for at least two years as a Special Olympics Texas Best Buddy.

SOTX partnered with Best Buddies®, a nonprofit organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“Madison Arial has a heart of gold and will do anything for anyone to help them. Madison is always smiling. She is compassionate, loving, and also willing to serve those with special needs,” said Bryan Harvey, son-in-law of Debra Kirkland.

Arial has been a SOTX Best Buddy since her freshman year. She worked with the Harvey family often during her time at BHS, and they presented her with the award.

“I am so beyond honored,” Arial said. “The Harvey family has blessed my life in more ways than anyone could imagine. Special Olympics is my world. I could only imagine to be half the lady Debra was.”

“Madison has been part of the Brownwood Special Olympics Team as a mentor for many in the SOTX family and a Unified Partner to Kasidee ‘Peanut,’ Debra’s youngest granddaughter, for the past four years,” Harvey said. “Madison has received the SOTX Area 14 Unified Partner of the Year Award and the Brownwood SOTX Unified Partner of the Year Award.”

Arial said she plans to continue her work with SOTX. She has been accepted to Tarleton State University and will be dancing with the drill team, the Texan Stars. The scholarship will help aid university expenses as she pursues a degree in special education.

An account has been set up at Texas Bank to continue the scholarship for future years. Donations can be made to the Debra Kirkland Memorial Scholarship.