Meet the Finalist: 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 a finalist in the 2018 Richie's Spirit Foundation College Scholarship Program. Please stay tuned for the announcement of scholarship winners coming soon.

 

Meet the Finalist: Brittany Kline-Hartman

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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.

Meet the Finalist: Connor Flanagan

Meet the Finalist: Connor Flanagan

At six years of age, Connor Flanagan, of Tyngsboro High School in Tyngsboro, MA, was diagnosed with a rare type of leukemia. As a last resort, he underwent a bone marrow transplant that ultimately saved his life.. While Connor continues to battle health issues and the long-term side effects of cancer treatment, he has learned to monitor his expectations and remains strong when faced with adversity.

The Final Round: Richie's Spirit Foundation Announces Scholarship Finalists

Richie's Spirit Foundation's volunteer Scholarship Review Committee has selected the top 10 finalists from a pool of more than 2,600 applicants for the 2017 Significant Challenge College Scholarship. Judges will review the final candidates to award $3,500 in scholarships to three recipients. An announcement of the winners is expected in May.

Over the next few weeks, the Foundation will feature student profiles of the final candidates giving donors, supporters and volunteers an in depth look at these worthy individuals.

The purpose of the Richie's Spirit Foundation Scholarship Program is to honor Richie's memory by supporting the pursuit of higher education by candidates with a similar zest for life. Each applicant is asked to share a significant life challenge and how they have been able to overcome the major obstacle. While each individual story is different, many of these students share similar qualities to Richie - to live life with a positive spirit regardless of the adversities life may bring.

The Richie's Spirit Foundation Board of Directors would like to congratulate the top 10 finalists for their accomplishments and would also like to acknowledge all applicants for sharing their stories. Stay tuned for our finalist profiles!