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December 04, 2017 05:08 PM

Bus Crash Survivor Wins $100,000 Scholarship

Vermillion, SD

Dr. Pepper will help pay for a University of South Dakota student to go to med school.  

Sawyer Stevens has won a $100,000 scholarship.  It isn't the first time the USD junior made headlines.  He was hurt in a deadly bus crash near Cottonwood, Minnesota, in 2008.   Now, he's using that difficult time to do something good. 

It's finals week at USD and it is hard work maintaining a 3.98 grade point average.  Stevens says he got one B in a one-credit course, his first since Junior High. 

Stevens says that work ethic comes from deep inside him. It's a need to do well that starts with a very difficult beginning. 

"When I was 10 years old, I was severely injured in a bus crash, that also took my brother's life," Stevens said. 

That loss changed his life. Stevens graduated valedictorian and played football in high school, despite a severe nerve injury. 

"Constantly my entire left leg was in agony after it, which was really hard to deal with," Stevens said. 

That pain inspired him to want to become a doctor, like the ones who helped him. 

"My main aspiration for being in that job, or in any job, is to help and give back. I think that's the only way to enjoy spending your life is helping others," Stevens said.  

It's hard to understand what it's like to have a life-changing injury. 

"I guess I have a unique approach that some other physicians might have," Stevens said. 

Stevens understands. First hand. 

"Being there, being able to say, 'I know you can overcome it. I know that with everything, things may not be completely back to normal. But the goal is to get back to as normal as it can be,'" Stevens said. 

He says his brother would be proud. 

"Even as kids we were always supportive of each other. So I know no matter where we'd be or what we'd be doing, he'd be supportive of it," Stevens said. 

This $100,000 is just one more step toward giving back. 

Stevens says he doesn't really think about how much the bus crash motivated him to work with pediatrics, especially nerve injuries, but the answer is clear. He says the crash has been a part of him for his whole life, and it feels good to turn a negative situation into something that can help other kids.  

Watch Sawyer Stevens video for Dr. Pepper here

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