This month’s Giving Mission recipient is the Dan Otten Memorial Scholarship Fund. The fund honors longtime Celina teacher and coach Dan Otten while providing scholarships for outgoing high school seniors.
In his 45 years at Celina High School, Otten touched thousands of students’ lives as he served as a teacher, athletic director, and coach. He was instrumental in the success of the cross country and track and field programs, and also coached soccer and swimming.
Each year, Otten also gave what he called “Outstanding Person Awards” of $500 from his own pocket to some of his athletes.
“It wasn’t ever based on being the smartest person or the best athlete … it was based on their character,” said Susan Fleeger, Otten’s sister.
Shortly before his passing in early 2021, Fleeger and her six siblings helped Otten establish a memorial scholarship fund through the Mercer County Civic Foundation that would help student-athletes pay for their college education.
According to Evelyn Vian, office administrator for the foundation, the scholarship is not awarded based on total athletic achievement, but on character and discipline.
So far, donations to the fund have totaled just under $50,000. Once $50,000 has been raised, the fund will become an endowment that can continue in perpetuity.
Dan Otten Memorial Scholarship Guidelines
Each year, Celina student-athletes are each eligible for a $1,000 scholarship. The qualities the scholarship committee will consider when awarding the funds are:
- Personal character
- Work ethic
- Service to others
- Athlete with academic achievement (although these are not the two main qualifications)
Otten’s siblings will choose the final recipients of the scholarship, with the first three students being awarded the funds this year.
“Dan was a very giving person. The Celina kids were his family — he treated them like his very own kids. We wanted to continue his legacy through the scholarship fund,” said Fleeger.
Supporting the Dan Otten Memorial Scholarship Fund
Memorial contributions of any size can be made to the Mercer County Civic Foundation for the Dan Otten Memorial Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 439, Celina, OH 45822.
Contributions can also be made through the Mercer County Civic Foundation website. Select Donate from the homepage, and then select “Otten, Dan Memorial Scholarship” in the drop-down menu.