JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Two Richlands High School alumni are helping students in their community make a difference in the lives of people who struggle with mental health and addiction.

The Wildcat Angel Fund honors the memory of friends they’ve lost in the hopes of helping others in the future. Patrick Dean and Jordan Brown graduated from Richlands High School in 2010 with their best friend, Kahn White, the man who is their inspiration for The Wildcat Angel Fund.

White suffered from sickle cell anemia but was always in a positive mood, anytime they were together.

“The people that are in the most pain are the happiest, and he was a true testament to that,” said Dean, co-founder of The Wildcat Angel Fund.

“We lost him to an overdose in January 4, 2020,” Brown said, the other co-founder of the nonprofit.

The two quickly realized how many other people are affected by mental health struggles and addiction within their community and across Eastern North Carolina.

“Everybody knows somebody who’s struggled with it,” said Brown. “So it hits home for everybody.”

Now, they’re helping give college scholarships to Onslow County students who want to have a direct impact on the community.

“People that want to go to school for suicide prevention, drug rehabilitation, and anything mental health, psychologists, sociologists, anything really like that,” said Dean.

Students at Richlands, Southwest Onslow or Jacksonville High Schools can apply if they’re interested.

“Money is the biggest barrier to go into school for that. You have to have a degree, you have to get those certifications,” said Dean. “A lot of people when they get those jobs aren’t paid a lot of money, and so it prevents a lot of people from maybe going into those fields.

People can donate with 100% of it going towards the scholarships.

“I would be very, very proud if somebody had the scholarship and went somewhere, whether it be back home or out into the wide world and you know, did good for the world,” said Brown.

The first round of scholarship recipients will be announced in spring of 2023. To apply or donate to The Wildcat Angel Fund, click here.