‘Demarius Lives’

(L to R) Ciara, D’myia, D’asia and Demetrius Cox stand beside the granite bench that commemorates the one-year anniversary of the death of their son and brother, Demarius. “Run Your Race” Color Fun/Walk will be held Sept. 19 to benefit the “Demarius Lives” Scholarship Fund.

“Run Your Race,” a 2-K Color Fun Run/Walk, will be held at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, starting at the Memorial Park entrance in Hillsboro. Proceeds from the race will benefit the “Demarius Lives” Scholarship Fund, which supports a scholarship targeting Hillsboro High School graduates.

The “Demarius Lives” Scholarship Fund was created to honor the memory of Demarius Amari Cox, a 16-year-old HHS student who died last summer.

Demarius lived a life of purpose, on purpose,” said Ciara Cox about her eldest child. “Because he knew Jesus, Demarius’s love for life and others outweighed the adversities he faced.”

This past June 7 marked a year since Demarius died while attending Sky Ranch Horn Creek Camp in Colorado.

“In the summer of 2019, the tragic death of Demarius brought waves of grief and loss to a loving family in our community,” said Jesse Allen, HHS special education teacher.

Allen and several others jumpstarted efforts to solicit contributions toward a gift for the Cox family to commemorate the one-year anniversary. Co-workers, family, friends and others in the community joined in and donated generously toward the project.

“Once again, a deep love rose from this community and poured into a family processing and battling waves of loss, grief and sadness,” Allen said about the big-hearted response.

A solid granite bench engraved with “Demarius Lives” and a reference to Demarius’s favorite Bible verse, Philippians 4:13, was given to his parents, Demetrius and Ciara Cox, and sisters D’myia and D’asia as a reminder of the Hillsboro community’s love and support for them.

Because of the overwhelming response to the bench project, the “Demarius Lives” Scholarship Fund was formed. The scholarship fund, which is being held by Hillsboro Community Foundation, will provide financial assistance to HHS graduates who are furthering their careers through higher educational or vocational pursuits.

“‘Demarius Lives’ came to me last August through the Spirit in a soft, clear whisper,” said his mother about the phrase’s meaning. “It shows that Demarius is not forgotten, and he lives eternally.”

The scholarship is based primarily on character. Current graduating seniors are eligible, and the goal is to award a 2021 HHS senior as the scholarship’s first recipient.

“We’ve all shared this story this past year,” said Janet Whisenhunt about the Coxes losing their son and the outpouring of support extending beyond the Hillsboro area, including their family and friends in Florida.

Thirteen years ago, the Coxes moved to Hillsboro from Orlando, Florida, when Demarius was 4 years old. His parents came to attend Tabor College, and after graduating decided to stay and put roots down in Hillsboro. Both are employed by Marion County Special Education Cooperative and work at USD 410.

Demetrius is a special education teacher for eighth and ninth grades and is head high school football coach, and Ciara is a paraeducator at HHS. She also works as coordinator of Main Street Ministries Food Bank in Hillsboro.

The ripple of Demarius’s life and untimely death has been significant.

“It has united our community—we’re all in this together,” said Whisenhunt, who coordinates the Wiebe Media Center at Hillsboro Middle/High School. “(That unity) is good news for our day right now.”

The registration fee for “Run Your Race” is $20 per person. Participants are guaranteed a Color Run T-shirt, provided they register by Sept. 5. Plus, for an additional $5, they will receive a color fun pack with colored powder to throw at others during the race.

“We’ll take day of registrations (for the run), but they may not get a T-shirt,” Whisenhunt said, adding, “The more the merrier.”

Race registration forms can be picked up at the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce office or downloaded from the Chamber’s website or the Hillsboro Community Foundation Facebook page. Fees may be mailed to or returned along with the form to the Chamber office at 100 N. Main St., Hillsboro, KS 67063.

Whisenhunt said the goal is to reach the mile marker of $10,000 for the scholarship fund by Dec. 31 so that the “Demarius Lives” Scholarship can be awarded to a Class of 2021 HHS graduate in May.

“A generous community donor is willing to add to our goal of $10,000 to lay the groundwork for the scholarship,” she said.

Local businesses and organizations, and the scholarship committee are sponsoring the race. Check-in for the race and pick-up of the packet will be from 8-9 a.m. on Sept. 19 at the Memorial Park entrance.

“Let’s fill the streets of Hillsboro with color and laughter, while social distancing, for a good cause,” Whisenhunt said. “Join us!”

For more information or to make a direct donation to the “Demarius Lives” Scholarship Fund, contact Jesse Allen at jesse.allen@usd410.net, Janet Whisenhunt at janet.whisenhunt@usd410.net or Virginia Martens with HCF at 620-947-0170. Also, donations can be made through the HCF link at https://centralkansascf.fcsuite.com/erp/donate/create?funit_id=1627