KANAWHA COUNTY, WV (WOWK) — Retired MMA fighter Daniel Puder is used to fighting back, but he has hung up the gloves and is now helping kids.

“I’m not going to throw these kids out. I’m going to pay for it,” Puder said in response to West Virginia’s Hope Scholarship being ruled unconstitutional this week.

The Hope Scholarship program was signed into law by Gov. Jim Justice back in 2021. Before a Kanawha County judge ruled it unconstitutional on Wednesday, June 6, it was set to take effect next school year, providing over 3,000 students scholarships for private schools or homeschools.

Now, because of Puder, not everyone is out of luck.

As the president of the Montgomery Preparatory Academy, he said they will offer 25 full scholarships to families who want an alternative to public schooling.

“You know, if we can do it we will,” Puder said. “Does it cost us money? Sure. It’s going to cost us anywhere from 150,000 to 200,000 this year. It’s going to be expensive. But why? I wish I had me when I was a kid, and I had a challenge like some of these other kids are going through.”

The ruling has still left some families hopeless.

“I am just feeling totally overwhelmed by it because we had all these plans in place, we spent a lot of time evaluating plans for my daughter, and now we’re back to square one of figuring out what can we afford, where can we go,” said Katie Switzer, a mother of four.

Nonetheless, Switzer said Puder’s scholarship offer is inspiring.

“It’s amazing that there’s people out there that understand the value of each kid getting what works for them individually,” Switzer said.

However, Switzer lives in Morgantown, and without any options closer to her family, she doesn’t know where to turn for her own kids.

“We’re just trying to figure out how we can hold it together,” she said.

Even though it’s only available to those attending MPA, Puder still hopes his scholarship will transform the lives of kids one school day at a time.

Misty McCune, the Dean of Students for Montgomery Preparatory Academy, said the first 25 students to enroll into the academy will receive the full scholarship for the entirety of their education at MPA.

To learn more about the scholarship, contact McCune directly at mccune@mlmpipa.org.