Steamboat Springs When Roddy Beall was born, he came home from the hospital in a 1947 Plymouth Special Deluxe.
Sixteen years later, his dad gave him the car for his birthday and Beall gave the car a major overhaul. Bought 25 years earlier for $50 at an auction in Toponas, the car received new interior panels and fabrics, a modern stereo system and a bright red paint job.
While the 55-year-old car with two-wheel drive stays indoors during the winter, in the warmer months the red hot rod is a fitting match for the curly red-headed Steamboat Springs High School senior.
Like the bright red 1947 Plymouth Special Deluxe, Beall stands out.
Or, so the trustees of the Boettcher Foundation thought.
Beall is one of 40 students in Colorado to receive the Boettcher Scholarship, what Steamboat Springs High School Principal Dave Schmid calls the most elite scholarship in the state for high school students.
As a Boettcher scholar, Beall will receive four years of full tuition and fees, a $2,800 living stipend for room and board and book allowances for any college in Colorado.
"I always said that I'd get a full ride. But I was just joking around. I never actually thought it would happen to me," Beall said.
Beall's essay on how the car he created was a metaphor for himself helped separate him from the almost 1,000 applicants who applied for the scholarship.
During the final selection process in Denver, judges asked questions on Beall's hot rod and he pulled out a senior picture of himself standing on top of his car in a matching red Sailors jacket.
But it wasn't just the essay that made Beall a good candidate for a scholarship focused on intellectual curiosity and community involvement. And it isn't just his car that makes Beall stand out.
Rather it was sinking two clutch foul shots during double overtime of Friday night's varsity basketball game against Delta or helping teammate Alex Mackey hand out Valentines to every girl in the school the day before Beall is a presence that is hard to miss.
"He has such enthusiasm and leadership. It draws you in," said his math teacher, Carole Buelter.
"He is just caring for others. You don't hear him making fun of other kids, ever."
Beall plays soccer and basketball for Steamboat, is the student body president, was honored as a National Merit Scholar semi-finalist and works with local organizations like Partners of Routt County, Advocates Against Battering and Abuse and the United Way.
While Steamboat has had only a handful of Boettcher scholars in the past 10 years, it has never had two in a row. Last year, Bryn Weaver received the award.
"It is such pride for us," Buelter said. "Our high school is a very tough school. We teach our kids well and they teach us well."
Beall had applied to Stanford and Dartmouth universities, but once he learned of the Boettcher scholarship, his mind was made up to attend the University of Colorado at Boulder, a school he has been cheering on in football since first grade and where his older brother Ben attends.
Although Beall visited Stanford this summer and was impressed by the beautiful campus and beaches, he said he has a soft spot for Colorado and his pale complexion wouldn't fare well on the California beaches.
While the free tuition was a big incentive for Beall, he said he was also attracted to the idea of having a network of some of the best and brightest in Colorado. Established in 1952 by Charles and Claude Boettcher, the scholarship has been awarded to more than 1,800 students and continues to build a community of scholars.
Inspired by his namesake and grandfather Rodney Francis Sturley Jr., who also had red hair, blue eyes and stood at 5-foot-11, Beall said he wants to be a doctor, which means his four years at CU will be spent studying biology or pre-med.
But his ultimate goal is to be a family physician and soccer coach, similar to another local role model, Dr. James Dudley.