Huntsville man’s scholarship gives children in West Virginia the chance to go to Space Camp

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- The Dunfords say it all started Christmas 2015.

"We were trying to think of a really meaningful Christmas present for my dad. And he had always told us that he always loved giving more than he liked receiving," remembered Annie Dunford.

The family sponsored a student from Dunford's elementary school in West Virginia, to come to Huntsville and go to space camp.

Two years later the fund remains as the "Failure is Not an Option" scholarship. It gives one boy and one girl from Meadow Bridge Elementary a week-long Space Camp experience. Students apply by submitting an essay on how "Failure is Not an Option" applies to their goals.

"I'm not telling you that you will never fail. As I've told my daughters, I'm not saying that you will never fail. In fact, if you're not failing you're not trying," says Russell Dunford, creator of the scholarship.

This year the family chose the winning essays and headed back to Meadow Bridge Elementary to present the winners with their mission packets. Dunford says one of this year's winners, Emily, was ecstatic to hear the news.

"I don't think you could have told her she had won the lottery and she would have been any more excited. As the mom said to me last year, 'things like this don't happen to kids around here,'" Russell says.

This year the scholarship will send its fifth student to space camp. Dunford says the very first student they sent, Collin, has continued to pursue his love of aviation. A year after space camp he went to learn to fly small aircrafts in West Virginia.

"The Space Camp is what planted that seed with him to do that. You know that's what you're looking for. That kid is gonna go on and do other bigger and better things. And hey, that's all we can ask," says Russell.

Dunford says his long-term goal is to expand the scholarships to other schools. You can go here to donate to the "Failure is Not an Option" space camp scholarship fund.