TALLMADGE — A scholarship started last year for local seniors has expanded to anyone attending college who meets the requirements.

Honor Amanda Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) is currently in its application process for scholarships for students attending a 2-4 year accredited college and meets 7 of 10 requirements listed at www.HonorAmanda.org. Applications will be accepted through April 30 with an awards luncheon in June for the recipients.

The scholarship honors Amanda Klonowski of Tallmadge who died in October 2017 from an accidental overdose after she and her boyfriend received cocaine laced with carfentanil, which is 100 times stronger than fentanyl, which is 100 times stronger than morphine. 

“She had a four-year degree in psychology from Kent State, where she was introduced to heroin,” said her mother, Chris Klonowski. “She was not a bad person, she just had a bad problem. I warned her about heroin but didn’t know cocaine was an issue.”

Klonowski said she was shocked by Amanda’s cause of death but after researching overdoses, she discovered cocaine laced with fentanyl was the leading killer in 2017.

Amanda struggled with mental illness from her teen years on and was treated, she said. 

“She battled and struggled with it, and I think it was the reason she turned to drugs,” Klonowski said. “She was clean seven months before dying. Her boyfriend got out of jail and six weeks later they were dead.”

Overdoses keep happening because of bad batches with lethal mixtures of drugs, and Klonowski tries to spread the word to keep it from happening to others.

“It’s important to get the word out and break the cycle,” Klonowski said. “If I can do anything to help, it puts some honor back attached to Amanda’s name.”

To deal with her grief and move forward, Klonowski created a non-profit, Honor Amanda Foundation, just before the one-year mark of her daughter’s death. 

“I had to do something that made sense and to give her life a different meaning,” Klonowski said. “I didn’t want her cause of death to be the only thing she was remembered for. She was so much more than how she died.”

Born premature at 1 pound 9 ounces, Amanda was a sweet, beautiful and smart daughter, Klonowski said.

“I wanted to attach something good to her name and change her legacy,” she said. “Through helping other people, it helps me to keep my mind busy and focus on something more positive.”

Last year Amanda’s Angels Memorial awarded $8,900 in scholarships to seniors who participated in drug prevention and awareness programs through their schools and went to college. Seniors attended Tallmadge, Cuyahoga Falls, Hudson, Lake and Stow-Munroe Falls high schools.

This year, The Honor Amanda Foundation scholarship committee will decide who receives the $1,000 scholarships based on qualifications, Klonowski said. She hopes to award $10,000.

“In May they will review the applications and pick the recipients,” Klonowski said. 

Klonowski said she has chosen three recipients who have volunteered and helped her with the foundation.

“They’ve given me a ton of their time,” she said. “The scholarship committee will pick another 10 recipients.”

Klonowski said she has money for this year and wants to get the word out to students in college.

“We’re different than most people who do scholarships,” Klonowski said. “If they are enrolled in college but their life has been impacted by substance abuse, I want them to continue on the right path. My daughter was someone who was a cheerleader for the underdog and the more these people need help, the more I want to give it. I don’t care how old they are.”

Money for the scholarships is raised through donations and the sale of items on the site. 

To read more about Amanda’s story, to order the beaded Amanda’s Angels jewelry or to make a donation, visit www.honoramanda.com.

Gannett reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at 330-541-9434 or lfreeman@recordpub.com