HASTINGS, Neb. — A Central Nebraska man known for his physical stature is making sure his legacy will be just as large.

John Saathoff rose from humble beginnings on his family farm to own a chain of car dealerships across the region, including his flagship Big John’s Ford dealership in Minden. By establishing the Big John Scholarship Fund at Central Community College, Saathoff is taking his first step to help other Nebraskans with similar aspirations. 

CCC Foundation Executive Director Traci Skalberg says the scholarships fit the donor.

“The story of our students — where they work hard, they gain skills and they infiltrate communities — that’s John’s story,” Skalberg said.

Saathoff donated $25,000 on Thursday. The money will fund need-based scholarships in 2024 for students in career and technical sciences or health sciences programs who maintain a C average. Preference is given to students from areas that supported Saathoff’s businesses, which include Adams, Buffalo, Dawson, Franklin, Harlan, Kearney and Phelps counties.

He says the scholarship program is only going to grow.

“This is a start to give us an idea what it’s going to do for us," Saathoff said. "But I hope to give a larger portion through the years.”

CCC expects the scholarships to assist more than 25 students in its first year.