Payton Bryant, 21, of Shelbyville was awarded Central Illinois’ Blue Crew Motorcycle Club’s 2023 firefighter scholarship during a ceremony Wednesday at the Illinois Fire Service Institute. The $5,000 scholarship was a surprise to Bryant, who will use the money to help pay for his training. It’s the fifth year the club has awarded a scholarship in honor of Chaz McCrone, a founding member of the club who was killed in an auto accident in 2018.
Samuel Lisec/The News-Gazette
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TODAY’S UPDATE: Payton Bryant, 21, of Shelbyville, received the Central Illinois Blue Crew Motorcycle Club’s firefighter scholarship.
CHAMPAIGN — A local motorcycle club will assemble today to remember one of their own — and provide a surprise boost to a future firefighter.
In the five years since the death of Chaz McCrone, the Central Illinois Blue Crew Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club has awarded a $5,000 scholarship to fund the training of an Illinois Fire Service Institute student.
McCrone, a founding member of the club and a captain with the Pesotum Fire Department, died in a 2018 car accident.
“My biggest thing is the scholarship is helping young people achieve their dream,” said Randy Shannon, president of the motorcycle club’s local chapter.
“Everybody wants to be a firefighter, right? You know when you’re little you play firefighter. But mostly it is to keep our brother Chaz’s name going after his passing.”
The motorcycle club chooses a scholarship recipient based on class performance and financial need after it receives a list of candidates from the institute.
The academy, about seven weeks long, costs roughly $5,200 to attend. About 47 students are anticipated to graduate from the current session Friday.
Shannon said the first McCrone recipient was a single father who was working part-time while enrolled in the academy. Today’s recipient won’t know they’ve been selected until the ceremony takes place.
“I think that’s a great thing that they’re doing,” said Robert Russian, Pesotum’s fire chief said.
The motorcycle club raised funds for the McCrone scholarship this year by holding a tournament on the University of Illinois golf courses, gathering donations from team sign-up fees and hole sponsors.
Shannon said the motorcycle club has raised more than $300,000 for local charities since the group incorporated in central Illinois in 2015.
“We just want to make sure that the community knows from myself and my club that this is a tribute to their donations and we much greatly appreciate it, carrying on Chaz’s legacy,” Shannon said.