Sudhalter Family Turn Tragic Loss Into Opportunity For Others

    four ladies and a man
    Cedar Hill ISD Board Secretary Ramona Ross-Bacon, Fluffy's Chicken Owner Gayla Beaty (a CHISD graduate who held a fundraiser for the scholarship), Beverly Ogbomoh, Cedar Hill ISD Education Foundation Executive Director Denise Root, Cedar Hill ISD Communications Coordinator and scholarship co-founder Michael Sudhalter

    A Scholarship To Honor The Memory Of Their Daughter

    Almost seven years ago Michael Sudhalter and his wife Whitney suffered the unimaginable loss of their daughter, Evangeline Paige Sudhalter, who was stillborn in Houston.

    It’s a horrible loss for any parent. But while they can’t have Evangeline in their lives as a child, they have her memory – one which they are honoring each year with the Evangeline Paige Sudhalter Memorial Scholarship. Each year they present to a deserving girl and boy a scholarship in her honor to help them achieve their dream of attending college.

    “We came up with the name, Evangeline, ‘Evie; for short, during a visit to South Louisiana, while my wife was still pregnant. As one could imagine, there was a great deal of grief and mourning, and the loss will always affect us,” Michael recalled. We decided that we wanted to continue her legacy through a scholarship to present to scholars who are studying medicine or counseling.

    “Why those two? To prevent future tragedies and to counsel families who are affected by tragedies.”

    2022 Evangeline Paige Sudhalter Memorial Scholarship Recipients

    This year’s scholarship recipients are Channing Vernon of Cedar Hill High School and Beverly Ogbomoh of Cedar Hill Collegiate High School. Vernon hasn’t decided where he’ll attend college, but he plans to become a physician and play baseball. Ogbomoh plans to attend the University and become an OB-GYN.

    Each received $1,200, the largest scholarships yet for recipients.

    Michael is the communications coordinator for Cedar Hill School District, so the scholarships go to a pair of students within that district. The scholarship started in 2020 at a school district in the Houston area where Michael previously worked. They awarded two $500 scholarships with funds raised prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    In 2021, they brought the scholarship idea to the Cedar Hill ISD Education Foundation (CHEF). Due to COVID-19, they raised $500 and presented two $250 scholarships.
    This school year, however, they were able to raise enough money to present two $1,200 scholarships and still have funds left over to dedicate to the 2023 scholarship, Michael said.

    “We had more than 50 donors, who donated between $10 and $600, including fundraisers by Sonic of Cedar Hill, Fluffy’s Chicken in Cedar Hill and Good Vibes Irie Smokehouse,” he said.

    Michael said he and Whitney decided to honor two scholars, but they must meet the criteria, and if there is only one who does, they receive all the funds. Students apply through CHEF.

    Michael noted that one of the students at Stafford School District in Houston is earning an associate’s degree this spring and another is enrolled at The University of Texas At Austin.
    The 2021 Cedar Hill recipients are both scholar-athletes. Charity Vernon is playing softball for Navarro College in Corsicana and Reilly Anthony plays football for the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth, Kan.

    Channing Vernon scholarship recipient with check
    Melissa Bradford (Chief of Staff for Texas State Representative Carl Sherman), Maureen Hluchanek (Evie’s grandmother), Pat Hluchanek (Evie’s grandfather), Whitney Sudhalter (Evie’s mother and scholarship co-founder) and Miles Sudhalter (Evie’s little brother), Michael Sudhalter (Evie’s father and scholarship co-Founder), Channing Vernon, Cedar Hill ISD Education Foundation Executive Director Denise Root.

    Continuing Evie’s Legacy

    “It is very rewarding to see that Evie’s Legacy continues through the achievements and dedication of these deserving scholars. Continuing and building upon this scholarship is something that helps our family,” Michael said. “You never fully recover from a loss this painful, but this helps us cope with it, by doing something positive.”

    The donations toward the scholarship come not only from local folks, but from all over the United States and even internationally, Michael said.

    “We are extremely appreciative of all of the generous donations. It is our goal that our son – who is currently a toddler – will continue the scholarship in his sister’s honor at some point in the future,” he said.

    Unless they wish to remain anonymous, every donor is thanked on Evangeline Paige Sudhalter Memorial Scholarship Facebook page.

    To make a tax deductible donation to the Evangeline Paige Sudhalter Memorial Scholarship, visit this link.

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    Rick Mauch
    Rick Mauch is a veteran of more than four decades in the media. He began writing in high school and immediately went into broadcasting for almost a decade after graduating, working his way to morning drive in Birmingham, Alabama. However, realizing how much he missed writing (though he did continue to do some during his time in top-40 radio), Rick returned to what he loved and has been doing it ever since. Rick's career has spanned a plethora of media outlets, including community journalism, sports, entertainment, politics and more. He's worked in print, broadcast and online media. He also spent several years doing public relations for a children's home in East Texas - still writing on the side, of course. When he's not writing, Rick loves to play golf and do Bigfoot research. He's an avid believer. He also made his first hole-in-one in June of 2020. Rick is married to Junell Mauch. They have five children and three granddaughters