BAY MINETTE — Baldwin County High School student Ty Drinkard was just 15-years old when he was tragically killed in an automobile accident on Father’s Day 2020. He left behind a huge network of family and friends who grieved his loss.
Within a few short months, those same people decided to channel that grief into helping others through The Ty Foundation. The mission of the Foundation is to keep alive his spirit of empowering people, enhancing education and giving back to the community.
They have more than succeeded in that goal. To date, the foundation has awarded nearly $20,000 in donations and scholarships to local schools and non-profit groups.
Foundation board members are Daphne Stamps, Patrick Hicks, Tayler Drinkard and Shay Champion.
Ty Drinkard’s mother Daphne Stamps said the foundation’s first donation – presented in November 2020 – was very special to the family.
“We decided to donate to Mrs. Childress, Ty’s former beloved teacher and the Tiger Den,” Stamps said. “Mrs. Childress became Ty’s intervention teacher in ninth grade. I know instantly as a parent she was very special. Her love for her students just wasn’t during school hours. She is the teacher that would text you after hours, calls if your child missed school and goes over and beyond for her students. She was so much more than just a teacher to Ty. She was his mentor and like his second mother.
“The Tiger Den was also very special to Ty. Since his passing, teachers told me Ty would often leave class early and they would find him visiting with the students in the Tiger Den or playing basketball during PE.”
Later that same year, the family presented its first Ty Drinkard Memorial Scholarship to Jay Malone at Bishop State Community College. They recently awarded a second scholarship to Kaylei Walker at Bishop State.
The Ty Foundation has also supported Perdido School, where he attended elementary and middle school. That support has come in the form of financial donations to the school, athletics and through the donation of books for students.
“We know Ty would be so proud that his legacy is being used to support a school that loved, supported, disciplined, encouraged, shaped his mind and worked to build his foundation as an athlete throughout his entire childhood,” Stamps said.
The Foundation has also made financial contributions to Baldwin County High School, Delta Elementary and Saraland High School.
In addition to its continued support of the Tiger Den and the Class of 2022, the Foundation has made donations to the BCHS baseball and wrestling teams. The baseball donation was in support of his teammates and the game he loved so much. The wrestling donation was made in memory of team member Damien Singleton, one of Drinkard’s beloved friends who died in April 2020.
Donations were also presented to Saraland High School’s Students Against Drunk Driving club for its efforts to provide students with resources needed to make positive decisions regarding drinking and driving and distracted driving.
Stamps said the foundation made a donation to Delta Elementary as a way to say thank you to the community for their response the night of the tragic accident that claimed Drinkard’s life.
“We wanted to honor the Crossroads and White House Fork Fire Departments,” she said. “These men and women were first on the scene the night Ty tragically left us. These rescue workers were there for hours and never left our side and they stood alongside us comforting us during the darkest night of our lives.”
The Ty Foundation and the Blayne Shackelford Memorial Scholarship Fund are once again teaming up to organize a toy drive benefitting the Baldwin County Child Advocacy Center. Toys can be dropped off at BCHS or Outdoor Addiction any time before Dec. 17.
Stamps said The Ty Foundation allows her to keep Drinkard’s spirit alive while having a positive impact on the community. She wanted to thank all those who have supported and contributed to the cause as well.
The foundation began with a vision a $1,000 donation from Drinkard’s aunt and uncle Judy and Gerald Sullivan. The foundation started fundraising by selling T-shirts and held a benefit in April 2021 to raise additional funds.
“The Ty Foundation wants to express how grateful we are to everyone that has supported us this year,” Stamps said. “You all have helped us keep Ty’s amazing spirit alive. We know that blonde hair, blue-eyed boy is smiling in heaven. We hope today that you think of Ty and smile and live every fleeting second big just as he did.”
To learn more about the foundation, or to make a donation, visit thetyfoundation.com.