NORTH VERNON — Jill Ross looked for the biggest baking pans she could find that would fit in her oven and bought 30 of them.
Next, she started assembling canned tomatoes, ground beef, spices and other ingredients for the sauce that goes into her homemade lasagna and began making mega batches to freeze.
Later this week, she’ll begin making more lasagna than she has ever made in her life. She’s aiming to feed 700.
As much work as it is, Ross is focused and determined. On her mind is her and husband James’ 20-year-old daughter, Laura, who was killed in a motorcycle wreck in Brown County eight years ago this month.
The lasagna will be part of a fundraising meal for the Laura May Ross Scholarship Fund. The event will begin at noon Saturday at Geneva Volunteer Fire Department in Scipio and last until the food is gone.
“We started out with a softball tourney,” said Jill about initial fundraising attempts that allowed the family to give out $500 to $2,000 in college scholarships a year in memory of her daughter. This is the first year she’s trying a different fundraising tactic.
“Laura always loved my lasagna, so I thought I’d try having a dinner,” Jill said.
Family friend Mary Cochran of Columbus has been handing out flyers and trying to get word out about the dinner, hoping to help make it a success.
“Jill and her family are such giving people,” Cochran said. “They want to help someone else pursue their career.”
With so many families struggling to pay for college expenses, Cochran added, every little bit helps.
The Ross family, which also includes Laura’s brother, Nathan, and his wife, Angela, and a step-brother, Jim Ross Jr., see the dinner as a way to keep alive the memory of Laura, a Jennings County High School graduate who was a student at Indiana State University, studying athletic training.
The scholarship also will allow another student to study a field similar to what Laura was pursuing.
They can be studying such areas as sports medicine, physical therapy or athletic training.
“Laura was wanting to be an athletic trainer for a pro sports team,” said Jill, a nurse who works for the Indiana Department of Health as a health surveyor. Laura’s father, James, is a postal carrier.
Laura started out helping with athletic teams in eighth grade and through high school worked with track, football, wrestling and basketball teams.
“She just always wanted to help people,” Jill said. “She just always had that special place in her heart for other people.”
Jill recalled how some student athletes would ask only for Laura to help them and how Laura would make a point to help students with special needs at school.
Jill’s heart still goes out to everyone because she knows no matter how many years go by, the memory of lost children never fades.
If you go
WHAT: Lasagna dinner to raise money for the Laura May Scholarship Fund
WHEN: Noon Saturday until food runs out
WHERE: Geneva Township Volunteer Fire Department, 6800 North County Road 575W in Scipio
MENU: Lasagna, bread sticks, barbecue sandwiches, drinks, dessert
COST: Donations accepted
ALSO PLANNED: Bake sale and sale of T-shirts
HELP NEEDED: Monetary donations to finish buying supplies for dinner, breadsticks, desserts; divided, disposable plates; paper products; ice
SCHOLARSHIPS: Will go to a student planning to study sports medicine, physical therapy, athletic training or similar field in college. Apply at Jennings County High School guidance department or contact Jill Ross.
INFORMATION: On scholarships or to make a donation or assist with dinner, 346-5577 or email@example.com
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