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A$50,000 donation from one of America's biggest celebrities Monday guaranteed the Lori Hacking memorial scholarship will help at least one troubled woman pay her tuition at the University of Utah every year.
Oprah Winfrey conducted an emotional one-hour interview Monday with Lori's mother, Thelma Soares, of Orem, for her television show. During the show, which airs today, Winfrey promised to make her own hefty donation, propelling the fund past the $75,000 mark necessary to endow a tuition scholarship.
The Lori Hacking memorial scholarship fund now contains $81,000 - and U. officials are hoping for more.
"We are encouraging others interested in helping memorialize Lori in this way to contribute as well," said U. fund-raiser Jeff Driggs. "With a larger endowment, we can just help more students."
Thelma Soares started the scholarship fund with $12,500 in donations she received from people throughout the world following the highly publicized search for her daughter, reported missing July 19.
Police believe Lori Hacking's husband, Mark, shot her in her sleep and threw her body in a trash bin. Officers will continue searching the Salt Lake County Landfill today. For the first time, cadaver dogs will not be used. Police will sift through the more than 4,000 tons of trash searching for Lori's remains and the .22-caliber rifle they believe Mark Hacking used to shoot her.
Lori Hacking graduated with a bachelor's degree from the U. in management in 1999, after working to pay her own way through school. Soares has said her daughter thought education was the way to independence, and she felt the scholarship would be a fitting way to memorialize her.
The scholarship will go to a woman who has been abused or has overcome some other difficulty, and who is in her junior or senior year at the U.'s David Eccles School of Business.
Business Dean Jack Brittain attended the taping of the "Oprah" show Monday, Driggs said. Soares appears throughout the show, along with taped segments with Lori Hacking's father, Hareld Soares, and one of her friends, according to a spokeswoman for Harpo, Oprah's production company.
The U. hopes to continue receiving donations to the scholarship fund and have now placed its goal at $100,000.
"We are thrilled to hear that Oprah is supporting this scholarship and Lori's family," Driggs said.
Donations can be made on the U.'s Web site, http://www.utah.edu.