'The meaning of it is bigger than the amount,' Jared 'Bird' Lloyd said.
Jared "Bird" Lloyd is taking the giant display check he received from Nehemiah Gilyard's family with him to Missouri State. Malik Daley said his $1,000 check from the Nehemiah Gilyard Scholarship Foundation is more meaningful than all the other college scholarships he's earned.
The scholarships and the students' high school graduations were a bittersweet reminder of the loss of their friend. Gilyard, a Flagler Palm Coast High School student, died in a single-car crash on County Road 302 on Feb. 14, 2021.
On May 28, the morning of FPC's graduation, friends and football teammates visited his gravesite, wearing their caps and gowns.
"We wanted to pay our respects, because he should have been graduating with us."
"We wanted to pay our respects, because he should have been graduating with us," Daley said.
Daley received the scholarship check during the graveside visit from Gilyard's brothers, Malakai Grant and Ely Gilyard. Grant, a football player at Colorado State, made a special trip home to help deliver the scholarships.
Lloyd, who transferred from FPC to Mainland High for his senior year, was surprised by an early-morning visit from the Gilyards at his home.
"My parents told me that there would be something meaningful and important happening," Lloyd said.
Grant, Ely Gilyard, Nehemiah's father Sim Gilyard and his wife Calandra Gilyard woke Lloyd up and presented him with the check.
Lloyd has a full football scholarship at Missouri State, but this scholarship was special because of who it represents, he said.
"I'm going to hang (the display check) up in my dorm. The meaning of it is bigger than the amount."
JARED "BIRD" LLOYD
"I'm going to hang (the display check) up in my dorm," Lloyd said. "The meaning of it is bigger than the amount."
Lloyd said the money will help pay for his summer rooming. He is scheduled to leave for school on June 13.
The Gilyards established the scholarship foundation after Nehemiah's death when community members offered to donate for his funeral. The family decided instead to do something to honor Nehemiah by awarding an annual scholarship in his name to a student who shows exceptional leadership and commitment.
Last year, TyShawn Blount, who grew up playing Pop Warner football with Nehemiah, received a $2,000 scholarship. This year, Daley and Lloyd, teammates of Nehemiah's on FPC's football team, each received a $1,000 scholarship.
"I wasn't really expecting it," said Daley, who graduated magna cum laude with a 4.0 GPA and also with an associate degree from Daytona State College as a dual-enrolled student.
Daley has been accepted to Stetson where he has received $50,000 in scholarship funds, his mom, Juleen Daley, said. But he might attend the University of North Florida, where his sister is a student. Daley wants to major in criminal justice or political science with the goal of becoming an FBI agent.
Nehemiah's passing has been tough on Daley and all his friends, Juleen Daley said.
"He had spent time with Nehemiah earlier that day," she said. "When Nehemiah passed, Malik made hundreds of keychains with Nehemiah's picture in them to pass out."
Daley said his grades suffered immediately after Nehemiah's death, but he has learned to use the tragedy as motivation.
"I've learned how to deal with it," he said. "When someone would ask me who I do it for, he's definitely who I do it for."
Daley, Jacob Abbas, Michael Crockett, Jeremiah Dye, Thomas Michael and Landon Gonzalez all wore their FPC caps and gowns the morning of their graduation when they visited Nehemiah's grave. Lloyd, who graduated four days earlier, wore his blue Mainland cap and gown.
"It was very special and kind of emotional as well," Lloyd said. "We all kind of said something. I just said I'll make him proud for both of us."
As Juleen Daley watched her son graduate, she wished Nehemiah was there, but she knew he was in spirit.
"He has impacted all of these boys' lives," she said. "And he's still here for them. Malik is going to college knowing that Nehemiah is going with him."