FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Sean Larson, of Fairfield, has been named to receive a National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter, 2014 Hayley’s Hope and Michaela’s Miracle MS Memorial Fund Scholarship.
Larson, a graduate of Fairfield Warde High School, will attend Fairfield University’s Dolan School of Business this fall to pursue a degree in marketing.
Larson is not one to try things out for the short-term. A golfer for 13 years, he was a four-year member of Fairfield Warde’s varsity golf team. He also picked up the cello for the first time when he was in the third grade, and continued to play all the way through his senior year of high school. He worked multiple part-time jobs while saving time to volunteer at the Fairfield History Museum. What makes him really stand out, however, is what he did at home, to help his mother.
“My mother has been living with multiple sclerosis since before I was born, so I grew up knowing nothing else,” said Larson, now 17, who noted that his mother’s awkward gait and tremors might be different but the symptoms of her MS never had a negative impact on their family. “I didn’t start to realize that something was different about her until I reached middle school, when my grandfather would take me places while my mother stayed at home, unable to drive. Then, I grew older and became responsible for being the one who ran home when I got a call that she had fallen again.”
Diagnosed in 1991, Jenifer Larson has been in the fight against MS for 23 years. More than 6,000 Connecticut residents, like Larson , live with multiple sclerosis, a potentially debilitating disease. The cause is unknown and there is currently no cure. In addition to the emotional toll, MS can have a substantial financial impact on a family. The direct and indirect costs of MS, including lost wages — even for those with health insurance — are estimated at more than $70,000 annually per household. This makes funding a college education that much harder.
“Last year, I broke my leg in a long-boarding accident and had to wear a cast and hop around on crutches for 10 weeks,” remembered Larson. “It was extremely painful and not being able to walk on my own was annoying. But that accident made me realize how resilient my mother truly is. She lives with MS every day, and that is a cast she will never be able to take off.”
As a recipient of the Hayley’s Hope and Michaela’s Miracle MS Memorial Fund Scholarship, Larson hopes to follow in his father’s footsteps by becoming a successful businessman.
“I have always looked up to my father and admired him for all the work he does,” said Larson. “I hope one day become a VP of sales like him, and my competitive side wants me to do even better.”
Larson was recognized by the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter, at its annual Hayley’s Hope and Michaela’s Miracle MS Memorial Scholarship Reception, which was held at the Country Club of Farmington, Thursday, June 5. He is one of 18 high school graduates receiving a 2014 scholarship from the Hayley’s Hope and Michaela’s Miracle MS Memorial Scholarship Fund.
Petit family scholarships are made possible through the Hayley’s Hope and Michaela’s Miracle MS Memorial Fund, which specifically supports the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter’s family programs. The fund was established in July 2007 by the family to honor the memory of Jennifer Hawke-Petit, who had MS, and her daughters Hayley and Michaela, who were active with the chapter in helping to raise funds to support scientific research for a cure.
“Receiving any scholarship is great, but knowing that this one came from the National MS Society makes it a lot more meaningful,” Larson said.