Make it Count Foundation Gift Supports UMKC Veteran Students

Jason Parson, Shelby Manning and Dale Duncan in the UMKC At Ease Zone

Couple honors their late son through education support

The Make It Count Foundation donated $10,000 to the Spencer C. Duncan Make It Count Fund at the University of Missouri-Kansas City to further educational opportunities for United States veterans.

Spencer C. Duncan, a U.S. Army Reserve door gunner, died in combat in the largest single-incident loss of U.S. lives in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. While his family was grieving, they decided the best way to honor Spencer, an Olathe, Kansas native, was to help other servicemen and women.

“Our family really wanted to shut other people out and grieve,” Dale Duncan, Spencer’s father and chairman of the board of the Spencer C. Duncan Make It Count Foundation says. “But we knew that our son wouldn’t have wanted that.”

Following Spencer’s death, a family friend recommended organizing a 5K run in his honor. His family decided this would be a great way to honor Spencer and help others. The event raised $20,000 that year and has raised more than $900,000 in its ten year history.

Jason Parson, BA ’99, president and CEO of Parson & Associates, LLC, and a veteran who served in Iraq, is president of the board of the Make it Count Foundation.

“I joined the military when I was 17 years old,” Parson says. “It was the greatest decision I ever made. It’s been the foundation of all my success. I hope we can continue to grow this partnership and help more veterans earn their degrees.”

Shelby Manning, who is currently pursuing her master’s in business administration and has plans for law school; and AJ Sharif, a first-generation student determined to get his master’s in business administration; are two UMKC student veterans who have received scholarship support through the Make It Count Foundation.

Eric Gormly, assistant director of Veteran Student Support Services notes that this support makes a significant difference.

“These generous gifts can help reduce some of the stress a student veteran may be having and allow them to focus more on their schoolwork rather than how they are going to afford books. But these student veterans receive more than just money towards their expenses,” Gormly says. “It also shows that UMKC has community partners who support the student veteran population and want to see them succeed.”