Kole Swartz, a 19 year-old freshman defensive end for the Montana Grizzly football team, lost his life in a tragic accident on March 15. 

An outpouring of love and support from the community and from Griz nation since that day has inspired Kole's family to give back, naming the first recipient of the Kole Swartz Legacy Scholarship. UM Athletic Director Kent Haslam announced on Tuesday, that Evan Epperly, Kole's teammate, friend and roommate from Kalispell is the first to receive a scholarship of approximately $1,500.

"The scholarship was really the idea of Jennifer and Sean Swartz, Kole's parents," Haslam said. "It was their way to give back to honor Kole's memory, and it reflects the commitment the community has made. It will be an endowed scholarship named after Kole that we will award each year."

Haslam explained the process of creating an endowed scholarship.

"The interest earned off the principal in the fund each year will go towards a scholarship for a defensive player on the football team who was born in Montana," he said. "The initial amount of the endowment is $25,000, and as the account grows over the years the scholarship amount will grow as well."

Over 350 individuals and groups from Missoula, Clinton, Frenchtown and the University of Montana have donated to the scholarship fund since its inception following the young man's death.

Donations to the scholarship fund can be sent here.