Meet the Finalist: Cade Pinalto


Basketball meant everything to Cade Pinalto. It was his identity, his passion, his dreams. After he was diagnosed with Left Ventricular Noncompaction Cardiomyopathy, however, he could no longer play the sport he loved so deeply. Cade felt an overwhelming loss of passion, drive, identity in the years following the diagnosis.

Things quickly turned around for Cade when he was offered the position of Assistant Coach of the Varsity Basketball team. The experience felt life-changing for Cade. He was able to once again feel the thrill of basketball and the community of his team.

Cade turned this newfound insight and self-growth outward. He and his mother founded Sidelined USA, a nonprofit whose mission is to reunite permanently sidelined athletes with their passions, by providing them with meaningful resources, connections, and mentorship. Sidelined USA has also supported coaches and the sports medicine community all over the nation.

In his award winning essay, he writes, “what’s more important than just being able to overcome one’s challenges, is being able to take your transformative experiences and use them to benefit the lives of others. I feel tremendously blessed to have already experienced the joys of being able to conquer significant challenges in my life and then use those experiences to make a difference in the community.”

Cade’s impact has far transcended the basketball court. Nicholas LoGalbo - Athletic director of Lane Tech High School comments, “Cade is a beacon of light in our school community[...] The confidence that he has ascertained through his journey radiates from him and his peers gravitate toward his leadership” Cade will continue building his community at Baylor University this Fall.

Richie's Spirit Foundation congratulates Cade Pinalto on being named the 2019 College Scholarship Honorable Mention Recipient. Please stay tuned for the announcement of Second Place Scholarship recipient coming soon.

Meet the Finalist: Bridget Llull


At the age of eight, Bridget Llull was diagnosed with scoliosis. By middle school Bridget was forced to wear a brace 20 hours a day, and by her freshman year of high school, Bridget had to undergo spinal fusion surgery. In search for support and solidarity from other young women with scoliosis, Bridget decided to form her own chapter of Curvy Girls Scoliosis in Philadelphia, PA. Now a senior at Archbishop John Carroll High School, Bridget has grown the group from 2-3 members at monthly meetings, to now reaching over 50 girls since inception.  

In her essay, Bridget wrote about the group has had on her, “I’ve met girls who really do have a significant struggle with scoliosis, such as multiple surgeries or severe mental health issues. This has shaped me to become more compassionate towards others and open about my own struggles.”

Bridget also founded and directs Embracing the Curve - an annual fashion show aimed at increasing confidence in girls, spreading scoliosis awareness and raising funds to support scoliosis research. She explains, “By dedicating my past to helping others in the future, I’ve overcome my challenge and am grateful for the struggles.” Bridget begins her studies in biomedical engineering at Catholic University this fall.

Richie's Spirit Foundation congratulates Bridget Llull on being selected a finalist. Please stay tuned for the announcement of scholarship winners coming soon.

Meet the Finalist: Julia Petrallo

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When Julia Petrallo was born, doctors told her parents to “enjoy the little time left” with her. Now a graduating senior at Canfield High School in Ohio, Julia has Autosomal Recessive Polycystic Kidney Disease (ARPKD). In addition to the dialysis and treatments for her failing kidneys, Julia experiences regular fatigue, migraines, and dizziness. While ARPKD has caused her to miss school, time with friends, and other events most teenagers take for granted, it has not stopped her from becoming a highly accomplished, passionate, and driven individual. 

Julia shares, “Having Autosomal Recessive Polycystic Kidney Disease has caused, and will continue to cause some of the worst days of my life. However, I know without it, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I wouldn’t have the same drive, the same passions, or the same endless lust to make every day better.”

Julia’s long list of activities and accomplishments include, outstanding academic success, Speech and Debate Team, Varsity soccer, volunteering at the local Children’s Hospital, Lacrosse, and civic and political engagement. It is these activities and her vivacious spirit that define Julia - not her illness. 

Richie's Spirit Foundation congratulates Julia Petrallo on being selected as a finalist. Please stay tuned for the announcement of scholarship winners coming soon.

RSF Sponsors Three Athletes at the 2018 Transplant Games

Salt Lake City, UT: Richie’s Spirit Foundation is proud to announce the three athletes it will be sponsoring at this year’s Transplant Games of America in Salt Lake City, Utah. Over 50 athletes from across the country applied for funding, which will help with the cost of registration, travel, food, and lodging.

Elise Babin, 6 years old, from Houston, Texas, was born with biliary atresia and received a life-saving liver transplant in 2013 when she was 17 months old. Elise will be competing in Youth Bowling, Youth Olympiad, 25 yard Swim Freestyle, and Youth Basketball with Team Texas.

Jason Korbol, 32 years old, from Bloomington, Minnesota, is a living organ donor who is competing in his second Games. In 2013, Korbol donated a kidney to his mother. He is competing in Track & Field, Bowling, and Pickleball with Team Minnesota-Dakota.

Natalie Yates, 60 years old, from Memphis, Tennessee, is a two-time kidney transplant recipient. She received a kidney from a living donor in 1995 and and an organ donor in 2015. Yates is competing in Darts, Cornhole, Bowling, and the 5K Walk with Team Mid-South.

Held every other year, the Transplant Games of America are a multi-sport festival event to help promote the need for organ, eye, and tissue donation. The purpose is to show the world that transplantation is a treatment that does indeed work. This year marks the third Games in which Richie’s Spirit Foundation is a sponsor. The Games run from August 3 - 7 in Salt Lake City. 

Richie’s Spirit Foundation promotes organ donation to people of all ages through education awareness programs, grants to honor Richie’s memory, and inspiring others to live life with a positive spirit.

Meet the Winner: Anna King

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At the age of fourteen, Anna King, of Mayfield High School in Mayfield, New York received a life-saving heart transplant. Growing up, Anna and her parents never expected that as a 6th grader she’d be diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, a disease that prevented her heart from pumping effectively and resulted in her being in heart failure.

Anna shares, “People often remark they could never survive a situation like mine, but they’re wrong. There’s no other option. When the waters rise, you either swim or drown, which is no choice at all. People say I’m brave, but I’m not brave; I took my only option.”

Anna’s family started a Facebook page, “Humor Heals the Heart” and she became an “accidental” advocate of organ donation as she found internet fame when she released her popular video parody of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.” This attention led to Anna becoming a speaker with the American Heart Association and Donate Life America. She has spoken at events throughout the US and inspired others as she serves as an advocate for organ donation, heart health, and positive thinking.

Anna is a leader at her high school where she is the president of the Key Club and her senior class.  Anna also takes college courses and participates in her school’s drama program. Whether in the classroom, on stage at an American Heart Association function or in her school’s auditorium, Anna is enthusiastic and positive every day as she believes each day provides her with opportunities to honor her organ donor.

RSF congratulates Anna as being named the First Place winner of the 2018 Richie's Spirit Foundation College Scholarship Program. 


Meet the Finalist: Brittany Kline-Hartman


Brittany Kline-Hartman’s childhood in Medina, Ohio was not easy. Her mother was an addict and spent most of Brittany’s childhood in and out of prison as she attempted to overcome her demons. Unfortunately, Brittany would soon face her own. At eleven years old, Brittany was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. Fortunately, a year later, she secured the final spot in an experimental drug program for children with brain tumors. However, this experience was a lot for a child to bear.

In her essay Brittany shared, “Over that time, my brain tumor shrunk to half of its size and became inactive. Ironically, although the strength of the tumor was dwindling in size and power, my depression was growing stronger with insurmountable intensity. The struggles had finally caught up to me, and I had no will left to live.”

After a suicide attempt, Brittany was checked into a hospital and after months of therapy and reflection she began to realize her own worth. The high school senior plans to attend the University of Akron and enjoys serving on her school’s student council, performing in the color guard, and playing rugby. Her and a group of friends have raised money as they walked for suicide awareness and prevention. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for adolescents and it is Brittany’s goal to bring awareness to this devastating and preventable act of despair.

As Brittany has found a zest for life and emerged from a dark place, she hopes to help others do the same.

Richie's Spirit Foundation congratulates Brittany Kline-Hartman on being selected as a finalist. Please stay tuned for the announcement of scholarship winners coming soon.

Meet the Finalist: Moriah Irving

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A senior at North Phoenix Preparatory Academy in Phoenix, Arizona, Moriah Irving has faced challenges and transformed feelings of loneliness and sadness into motivators to make a difference in the world. Moriah’s world would never be the same after her father killed himself after a long battle with mental illness. Because of this experience, this track and field captain who has numerous responsibilities including an after-school job at Baskin Robbins and serving as a member of the Youth and Education Commission of Phoenix, began volunteering as a Peer Counselor at Teen Lifeline.

At Teen Lifeline, Moriah answers phone calls from teens who are in crisis, ranging from suicidal and self-harming to those needing someone to talk to. In her essay, Moriah wrote “Through all of my experiences at Teen Lifeline, I try to create change even when I am not answering phone calls. I focus on being a caring and compassionate person to others. I am aware that I do not know what every person I interact with is going through in their life, or the hidden struggles they may have. With this in mind, I try to be someone who is kind and caring to everyone I interact with, and to be someone who is open minded and there for others.”

The future Scripps student plans on studying Neuroscience and Political Science. It is her goal to serve as an agent of change related to scientific developments and understanding about mental health, along with policy change and education in schools.

Richie's Spirit Foundation congratulates Moriah Irving on being selected a finalist. Please stay tuned for the announcement of scholarship winners coming soon.

Meet the Finalist: Allison Loo

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Despite being a victim of child abuse, California resident and Dublin High School senior Allison Loo displayed strength and determination as she found a way to share her story and help other children who have fallen victim to the same issue. As a high school junior, Allison founded Plushies Aimed To Comfort Hearts (PATCH Club) an organization that provides comfort items to child abuse victims and raises awareness about child abuse. Items are sent to CALICO, the same center that Allison visited after reporting her abuse.

Allison wrote, “Speaking about my past and having my family’s constant love and support helped me heal and realize my self-worth. I realized that I didn’t want to be a victim anymore. Instead, I became determined to find a way to turn an event that seemed to only have a bleak and grim outcome into something positive, uplifting, and helpful to those around me.”

As a club leader, honor roll student, and athlete, Allison finds joy in her passions. The future nurse is currently a member of the Tri-Valley Regional Occupational Program, Nursing Careers program and visits Stanford Health Care ValleyCare Hospital. It is through these opportunities that Allison has continued to have a positive impact on the greater community.

Richie's Spirit Foundation congratulates Allison Loo on being selected a finalist. Please stay tuned for the announcement of scholarship winners coming soon.

Meet the Finalist: Silas Sonnenberg

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During his seventeen years on this planet, Silas Sonnenberg, a senior at Frenship High School in Texas, has faced numerous health issues. Slias was diagnosed with Rieger’s Syndrome/Anomaly, a syndrome that his mother and siblings also have. Complications have resulted in numerous surgeries and trips to the hospital as well as a life filled with many doctors’ appointments and daily prescriptions.

Through it all, Silas has remained an active member of his community and dedicated student. This honor roll student performs in the Frenship High School Marching Band and Indoor Percussion, is an active member of the Springs Fellowship Church Youth Group and is a volunteer spokesperson for the Volunteer Spokesperson and volunteer and miracle kid for Children's Miracle Network at University Medical Center in Lubbock. As he shares his story with elementary school through college-age students, he inspires them to persist through hardships and serves as an advocate bringing awareness to his health challenges. He is a role model for his determination and might.

In his essay, Silas wrote “My journey dealing with medical issues has shaped me in appreciating every aspect of life. I’ve learned to persevere in hopeless situations. I‘ve learned to thrive in circumstances that are barely survivable. I’ve learned to be a victor rather than a victim. I don’t take seeing, walking, even living for granted because I’ve been unable to walk, in constant jeopardy of losing my sight and on the brink of death multiple times. I’ve learned to persevere, and I’ve chosen to make that a positive character trait.”

Richie's Spirit Foundation congratulates Silas Sonnenberg on being selected a finalist. Please stay tuned for the announcement of scholarship winners coming soon.