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SOAR scholarship: Clinton student runs family business despite parent's cancer battle

Seventeen-year-old Mason French of Clinton is one of three high school seniors receiving a $5,000 SOAR scholarship from The Sedona Group and WQAD News 8 this year.

CLINTON, Iowa — A Clinton student is one of three high school seniors who are receiving a $5,000 SOAR scholarship from The Sedona Group and WQAD News 8 this year.

Mason French, 17, stepped up for his family during a time when it was needed the most.

His family owns a pet cremation business at their Clinton home.

During Mason's sophomore year in high school, his father was diagnosed with throat cancer.

"He just helped out with whatever, never questioned, just 'What do you need done mom?" said Carena French, Mason's mother.

"A lot of days, it was just easier to just go day by day, to not think about, 'what am I going to do next or what am I going to do tomorrow,"' Mason said.

He took on the day-to-day operations of the business while his mother cared for his father during treatment. 

"When he would get home from school, he would start the business, start doing anything he could to help her keep caught up with the business," said Chris French, Mason's father. 

"It was very meaningful and it helped out the family, and that's mainly what I was thinking the whole time to help get me through it," Mason said.

Mason is also involved in the community through programs for children, like Big Brothers Big Sisters.

"He likes to solve a problem, he likes to find an answer, " Chris said. "He works hard at that."

"We understand the pain that they've gone through because we've lost animals like that, that we've loved so much," Mason said.

Mason was recently surprised with the SOAR scholarship for his hard work. 

"It's a fun day," Phil Cunningham with The Sedona Group said to Mason. "On behalf of the Sedona group and WQAD, Mason we'd like to award you, as one of this year's SOAR scholarship recipients for a $5,000 scholarship."

"Thank you," Mason said.

Mason has also helped with community events including breakfast with Santa and haunted houses. He loves shooting trap and being involved in school activities. He recently joined the golf team his senior year.

"Keep on going, keep pushing. Don't stop, even when it gets tough," Mason said.

Chris is now in remission and back to work.

Mason has been accepted to Iowa State University where he will major in industrial engineering. 

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