After buying a 63 acre farm in Bean Creek six miles northeast of Mexico in 1973, it took Carl and Charlotte Hirst 33 years to become honorary Bulldogs graduates in 2006.
As for the impetus to this specifically unique journey, it began a long time ago in a land far away and is now at a point where high school students all over the state are benefiting from it on an annual basis.
"We established the C and C Hirst scholarship fund in January 2006 with an initial gift of $50,000 that has been added to many times since," said Carl Hirst. "We offer three scholarship each year. Two are for $2,500 each to Mexico High School seniors that were active participants in one or more of the following; basketball, football, cheer leading or vocal music. (We also sponsor a) $1,000 scholarship for Advanced Automotive."
Because the Hirst's are long time hosts of the Show-Me Showdown, they often give a scholarship to a player from a final-four basketball team, as well. The reason for all this generosity isn't as obvious as it might appear, though, as the couple originally attended Pleasant Hills High School in Pike County, Il., where Carl was a part of the football and basketball programs. Once they were then married in 1964, the duo relocated to the area shortly-there-after and what followed was life-changing for all involved.
"Char and I were from a small town where everyone knew everyone and the school was the center of most activities. We both enjoyed basketball and football," Carl Hirst said. "Back at that time there were no sports offered for girls but Char was very active in many extra-curricular activities, including cheer leading, vocal music, band etc. Of course she was the home coming queen, too. We receive much enjoyment from attending many basketball games, including Mexico Middle School and others."
Another reason the motivation behind all this positivity is so selfless is that the Hirst's didn't come by the funds they've donated easily. Instead, Carl worked as a Raiload Agent and Charlotte was the Business Director for a mental health facility. It even took the pair several years to build their own home that they still live in today, all of which harkens back to the fact the pair was raised in a culture devoid of things like tablets, computers and a world of other technological luxuries.
"Neither of us had an advanced formal education., but we did celebrate our 53rd wedding anniversary on September 20th this year," said Carl Hirst. "We also enjoy cruising our Mustangs on the scenic back roads of Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina and Kentucky in pursuit of curiosities waiting to be rediscovered and photographed. Being raised during a time when a TV, Telephone and indoor plumbing were considered luxuries taught us to be thrifty and frugal in most areas to this day."
Past recipients of the Hirst's athletic scholarships include Tazshia Burgeson and Makayla Foreman in 2016-17, Jaylen Lee and Nicole Webber in 2015-16 and Zori Holman and Bryce Hopkins in 2014-15 according to mexicoledger.com.
That website also had a column from Aug. 3, 2012 compiled by Jim Stanley called Yesterday in Mexico that stated, "25 Years Ago Mexico’s Char Hirst drove her and husband Carl’s 1969 Mustang to first place Sunday in the pro class at I-55 Raceway in Pevely. Mrs. Hirst, in her 23rd year of drag racing competition, is riding a hot streak, having made the finals in three of the last four races she has entered.