The Jacob Karnchanaphati Memorial Trust awarded $210,000 in scholarships during the Class of 2021 Jacob Karnchanaphati Memorial Award ceremony at Sunnybrook Ballroom.

The Trust awarded all 21 applicants a $10,000 scholarship each. Previously, two students received scholarships of $2,000 each. Then, the Trust presented the scholarship to four students in 2019 and nine in 2020, each receiving a $2,000 scholarship.

Recipients included Braden Bartman, John Black, Matthew Esz, Ethan Ferraro, Luke Gallagher, Mason Gallagher, Samantha Goffice, Fiona Hovey, Janina Jaronski, Matthew Kerr, Zachary Kuhar, Lochlan LeVan, Hannah McNeill, Mikayla Moyer, Logan Neison, Nolan Peers, Lexi Recke, Aiden Seyler, Breanne Tinney, Josh Torrens and Nicholas Wilson.

The Jacob Karnchanaphati Memorial Trust was established in 2015 by Michelle and Christopher Karnchanaphati in memory of their son Jacob “JK” Karnchanaphati, 12, of Gilbertsville. A student in Boyertown Area School District entering his first year in junior high, Jacob passed away in the summer of 2015.

Jacob would have been graduating this year.

“Last night was amazing as we celebrated the 2021 Jacob Karnchanaphati Memorial Award recipients,” said Jacob’s mother Michelle Karnchanaphati. “I feel we had so many applicants this year because this would have been Jacob's graduating year, and he knew most of the applicants. Most of them were friends, teammates, classmates and some were all three. A few even attended preschool with Jacob.”

Karnchanaphati said that there was no significance to the number of 21, just a coincidence considering that the awards went to the Class of 2021.

The 21 applicants and their families were invited to attend a private ceremony with approximately 110 people in attendance. The female applicants were all greeted with corsages and boys with boutonnières.

The ceremony began with a slide presentation of all the applicants with pictures they submitted of their years playing soccer ranging from pewee to present. The event included food and desserts, a photo both, DJ and dancing.

“Appetizers surrounded a stunning ice sculpture with our nonprofit’s logo and later became the dessert station,” said Karnchanaphati.

Scholarship funds are raised through the annual JK 5K and Birthday Fun Run.

“Throughout the years, we have received tremendous support from the community, our friends and soccer families, the sponsors, and all of the volunteers that made our JK5K a success. We could not have gotten to where we are today without you all, and can’t thank you enough for helping us keep Jacob’s memory alive,” Karnchanaphatisaid to the crowd.

There are many soccer families and close friends who volunteer each year as well are a big part of the 5K event — most were sitting in the room the night of the award ceremony.

In addition to the JK5K fundraiser, the Trust received several private donations and contributions from Costco Wholesale’s United Way Campaign.

“Each year, many generous Costco employees designate their United Way donation to be given to our non-profit organization and I’d like to acknowledge and thank them for their continued support,” she said.

“For those of you who were lucky enough to know Jacob, you know that he had a great love of soccer. You know his innocent, sill personality, his quick wit, and his brutal honesty because he would tell you like it is — whether you wanted to hear it or not!”

At the age of 3, Jacob started to play pee wee soccer in Pottsgrove and later moved to play in Boyertown, which is when he truly fell in love with the game.

“He’d see his friends and practice, and would want to keep playing even after it was over. He had a ball with him most times whether he was inside, outside, on the trampoline, or just walking through the neighborhood.”

Offering words of inspiration, Karnchanaphati shared quotes by some of Jacob’s favorite soccer players. In his room, their posters are still hanging.

“Talent without working hard is nothing” — Ronaldo

“You can overcome anything, if and only if, you love something enough” —Messi

“The secret is to believe in your dreams, in your potential, that you can be like your star. Keep believing, and don’t lose faith in yourself” — Neymar

Calling all of the applicants to the stage, Karnchanaphati said to them, “Lots of you have gone on to find love in other sports such as baseball, lacrosse, hockey, and basketball, tennis and track. But what I think is so amazing is that Jacob has brought us all here tonight, to honor his memory and unite us with the one sport you all have in common — and that’s soccer. How awesome is that?” 

“This past year has been tough for all of you, but you’re almost at the finish line as you get to go out in the world and write your life’s story,” she continued. “We waited a long time to see so many students on the stage this evening.”

Wanting to do something special to honor Jacob and the Boyertown Class of 2021, the Trust decided to do things differently this year.

“We wanted to give away the majority of the trust fund tonight because that was the greatest way we could think of to honor Jacob this year,” said Karnchanaphati.

This year each recipient would not be receiving $2,000; instead they would all be receiving $10,000 towards their college tuition.

“I think the whole room was stunned!!” said Karnchanaphati about the response. “It was the best feeling to make a big difference in a great group of kids!”

The next JK5K & 1 Mile Birthday Run and Walk, held in memory of Jacob’s birthday, will be held on Sept. 26. Registration opens in June. All efforts benefit the Jacob Karnchanaphati Memorial Trust.

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