Vacaville father leads in honoring son’s legacy through scholarship

Scholarships

Glenn Demuth is a familiar face at Vacaville High baseball games — a man who continuously chats with players or coaches, all the while anticipating a game that’s about to unfold.

Though a fan of the game, Demuth also is there for a different reason. Getting the chance to watch his son, Aaron grow as a baseball player over two decades, he feels being at the diamond is a chance to become close with his son once again, months away from the 6-year anniversary of his passing.

“I wasn’t a real spiritual person until Aaron passed away,” Demuth said. “There are so many things that have happened that we know that he’s there, he’s around, he’s watching everything, he’s helping out. He’s keeping an eye on things.”

Vacaville's Aaron Demuth passed away from cancer in 2016 and his family started a scholarship for current baseball players who are graduating seniors at Vacaville High where he played baseball and graduated in 2003. (Photo courtesy of Glenn Demuth)
Vacaville’s Aaron Demuth passed away from cancer in 2016 and his family started a scholarship for current baseball players who are graduating seniors at Vacaville High where he played baseball and graduated in 2003. (Photo courtesy of Glenn Demuth)

Growing up, Aaron was a kid that gravitated toward sports. Though he played basketball until his senior year of high school, his love for baseball resonated even stronger.

“He loved the game of baseball, that’s a fact,” Demuth said.

Aaron was a fixture in the Vacaville High baseball program before graduating in 2003.

He continued his career at Cosumnes River College in Sacramento, earning a scholarship to play at Chico State, where he finished off his career in 2008.

After graduating college, Aaron returned home to Vacaville and immediately dove into the baseball scene where he and Vacaville High teacher Eric Chappell grew close.

“It was absolutely infectious, he absolutely loved it,” Chappell said about Aaron and his love for the game. “He enamored his life around baseball, and it was infectious to other people that were around baseball. No matter how much you like baseball, he made you like baseball even more.”

Settling in his own home, he began the next chapter of his life with his wife, Lindsay, and sons Mason and Aaron, known as Little Aaron, to begin raising a family.

All of that was rocked in September of 2014 when Aaron began to complain of stomach issues that eventually landed him in the emergency room. After an MRI, a mass was found on his pancreas and he was diagnosed with neuroendocrine pancreatic cancer.

“It was a death sentence,” Glenn Demuth said.

Given a time frame of nine months to live, Aaron began to fight. Through the intensive chemotherapy, ultimately doctors recognized that there wasn’t much else they can do, devastating family and friends.

Months before his son passed away, Glenn promoted the idea to him of creating a scholarship in his name for Vacaville High baseball players who were aiming to compete on the collegiate level, and Aaron was on board.

“He thought it was a great idea,” Demuth said.

Vacaville's Aaron Demuth follows through on a swing at Chico State University in this undated file photo. Demuth passed away from cancer in 2016 and his family started a scholarship for current baseball players who are graduating seniors at Vacaville High where he played baseball and graduated in 2003. (Photo courtesy of Chico State)
Vacaville’s Aaron Demuth follows through on a swing at Chico State University in this undated file photo. Demuth passed away from cancer in 2016 and his family started a scholarship for current baseball players who are graduating seniors at Vacaville High where he played baseball and graduated in 2003. (Photo courtesy of Chico State)

Aaron’s childhood best friend Logan Murphy wasn’t surprised to hear him ready to help others while fighting for his life.

“He was always, to the very last moments, was always thinking of others,” Murphy said about Aaron giving his blessing on the creation of the scholarship. “It did not surprise me.”

After 20 months of fighting, Aaron passed away on June 3, 2016 at the age of 31.

The following school year, Demuth presented the idea of the scholarship to former principal Ed Santapadre, who immediately jumped on board. When varsity baseball head coach Stu Clary was brought up to speed, he loved the idea.

“This was a family that wanted to do the right thing,” Clary said. “They want to preserve their son’s memory and I am 100 percent for that.”

Starting at the end of the 2016-17 school year, Demuth relied on collaborating with family and friends on how the application process was going to proceed. The biggest element that came into play was observing outgoing seniors on the varsity program to see if they played the game of baseball the same way Aaron did.

“He gave everything on and off the field,” Demuth said.

At the start of each season, Glenn speaks with the senior class to share his son’s story. Those that have the intention to play at the college level and maintain a 2.5 GPA are tasked with writing an essay on Aaron.

In the past nearly six years, Chappell has had plenty of players come to his office to ask about stories of his late friend, and he was happy to share.

Eric Chappel (left) and Logan Murphy pose in this file photo from 2009 after they were named co-coaches of the Vaca High baseball team.Both of them spoke in glowing terms of their late friend, Aaron Demuth, who passed after a battling panceratic cancer in 2016. (Joel Rosenbaum / Reporter File Photo)
Eric Chappel (left) and Logan Murphy pose in this file photo from 2009 after they were named co-coaches of the Vaca High baseball team.Both of them spoke in glowing terms of their late friend, Aaron Demuth, who passed after battling pancreatic cancer in 2016.(Joel Rosenbaum / Reporter File Photo)

If they manage to do well on the essay, they would sit down with members of the Demuth family before the winner would be announced.

“The kids take it so seriously and they want to learn about him,” Chappell said. “They use it for the part of their essay and it’s really cool to get to share that story about them (Aaron) and they respect it.”

After awarding their first $1,000 scholarship to 2017 grad Tyler Bosetti, the Demuth family re-grouped on how to keep pushing it forward. He is quick to credit beloved community leader, neighbor, and auctioneer the late Joe Gates in the idea of the community coming to help.

“He (Gates) said let’s do a raffle next year and raise some money,” Demuth said.

So every year, in the fall, they begin to advertise a raffle to the community for prizes donated by generous people to continue to gather funds to continue the legacy of the scholarship. Demuth, alongside Aaron’s wife Lindsay and his sister Tina, work together in the decision-making process, it is a community-driven effort.

“It enables us to give away more money, last year we gave away two scholarships, for $2,000,” Demuth said.

Alongside helping Bosetti, who is set to graduate from the University of Nevada, they’ve been able to assist players like Cole Elvis (Cal), Bradley Taylor (Azusa Pacific), Kyle Bender (Washington State), Griffin Harrison (Sacramento State) and Hunter Dorraugh (San Jose State) in continuing their academic and athletic careers.

The Demuth family gather for the jersey retirement ceremony for Aaron during the 2017 Solano Mudcats season.(Photo courtesy of Glenn Demuth)
The Demuth family gather for the jersey retirement ceremony for Aaron during the 2017 Solano Mudcats season.(Photo courtesy of Glenn Demuth)

Now with the seventh scholarship is set to be awarded on May 18 to a deserving senior, Aaron’s legacy will remain in the Bulldog community. Murphy knows that his buddy would be proud to see the scholarship that bears his name doing so much good to those who love the game as much as he did.

He hopes his family finds peace with that.

“I just hope it gives them positivity that his name remains a fixture in not just Vaca High but Vacaville the city,” Murphy said.