"It's called the Nick Bell Mentoring Memorial Foundation. When my boy left (me) I had to do something. Sitting there and looking at all the pictures of him and receiving all the phone calls, memories of him and him not being there, it was just too much for me. I felt like I needed to do something, something that would not just keep his memories alive but would help other people, too.
"I remember when Nick was a little boy I tried to find a big brother for him through the Big Brothers and Big Sisters and I asked his uncles to spend time with him and take him to places such as games or attend his games. I told Nick to mentor when he got bigger. I wanted him to be nice to some boy that doesn't have a daddy in his life or any male figure in his life. I wanted him to encourage him and do things with him that he wouldn't have if it wasn't for Nick.
"Nick had a great influence on a lot of people, young and old. People were impressed with him, so I felt that a foundation that would help children would be perfect. The foundation would support children in elementary school, middle school and high school in ways that would allow them to go to things they couldn't go to otherwise.
"I heard that the church has a spring camp that costs $125. And I remember when I didn't have $125. So, we have decided to sponsor three children. When we went to the people in charge of that program, they told us two families had already come and asked if there was any help for their children to go through the program because they couldn't afford it. Then, the third person showed up, so at least three children have been sponsored to go to the spring camp. You'll see that information on the website.
"We also want to provide scholarships. We have already gotten scholarships started. We did two scholarships at Mississippi State (Wednesday). We also have one started at my church. We also have a scholarship started at his high school. I also contacted the church we grew up in and we are going to start a scholarship there.
"But right now, we want to help established foundations and programs, programs such as the Boys and Girls Clubs. We will try to build relationships with those type organizations.
"We are only getting started with this foundation. We just began the foundation in March. We not only want it to just be in the community that he grew up in or just Mississippi where we have two scholarships started, but we want it to be nationwide."
Tell me about the two Mississippi State scholarships.
"One is called the Nick Bell Mentoring Memorial Scholarship. It's an annual scholarship that we are providing funds for to be given to a student every year. There are requirements such as having at least a 2.5 grade point average and some other requirements that the school will let them know about. That's for anybody. You don't have to be an athlete to apply for it. I want to make that clear.
"The other scholarship is one that the school has. It's called the Nick Bell Mentoring Memorial Foundation Loyalty Scholarship. That scholarship is also for $500 but they will match it. So, that student will be receiving a $1,000. It has higher requirements. A student will have to have a 3.0 grade point average and show leadership abilities and some other requirements."
I know the foundation is helping other people and it helps keep Nick's memory alive. But how does it help you emotionally?
"The sadness is unbearable. When you are thinking about how bad you feel it only makes it worse. The best way to relieve some of that sadness is to concentrate on helping other people. It takes your mind off of yourself.
"I don't know anything else I would rather be doing under the circumstances. I would rather have my child more than anything else in the world. It was a joy to be around him. It was a joy to see other people be around him because people just enjoyed being around him so much."
Has this brought you closer to the Mississippi State University family?
"Nick loved this place so much. And any thing or any body that loves my babies, I love them right back." (Linda's other children are Monica Bell McAlpine and Ashley Bell Windham)
"The kind of relationship that he had with Mrs. Mullen (MSU head coach Dan Mullen's wife); Mrs. Mullen is just a love bug. After Nick had his surgery and he came back to the school to visit, Mrs. Mullen wanted to know as soon as he got on campus. He called me and told me that, 'Mrs Mullen kissed me twenty times.' I told him that was good because somebody needed to be there to let him know that he was loved. They really cared about my child. And I appreciate that."
Mississippi State's football team had a great season in 2010. And the MSU coaches and players played the season for your son. How did that affect you?
"It just seemed like God was in it somehow. How could one person affect so many people if it weren't for God? He is the only person that has the kind of ability to affect 100s of thousands of people like this has done. I have had people send me cards. I got over 40-something cards out of my mailbox for Christmas from mostly Mississippi State people. Most of them were talking about the Gator Bowl and how Nick was going to there pulling for them. One businessman said he has been in Starkville over 15 years and he has never seen anything like the affect Nick has had on the community and the school. It's like he has pulled it together."
Have there been any special memories the past few months that you would like to share?
"Since he has been gone I have had people tell me that they have been affected by Nick. You may have read some of the articles about Chris Relf where he said that Nick had come to him in a dream and told him that he would be fine. And the last three games of his season were his best three games of his season. Then, he won the most valuable award at the Gator Bowl. It was like Nicholas was there the entire day. I was trying to get Chris' attention after the game because I knew he would be filled with my boy's spirit. He came over and I touched his hand and he touched mine and it was like I was touching my boy. And he said in one of the articles it was like he was touching Nick when he touched me."
What can people do to help the foundation?
"We need continued financial support. And we need each person to tell people that they know about the Nick Bell Mentoring Memorial Foundation."
You can contribute to the foundation by going to their website. The address is www.nickbellfoundation.org. Click here to go to the website
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.