NEWINGTON, Conn. – David Anastasio, of Newington, has been named to receive a National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter, 2014 Hayley’s Hope and Michaela’s Miracle MS Memorial Fund Scholarship.
Anastasio, 18, after graduating from Newington High School this June, will attend the University of Connecticut, in Storrs, to pursue a degree in biology.
Anastasio was a four-year member of Newington High’s football team, and earned one of four spots as team captain during his senior year. In addition to having a passion for football, Anastasio also ran indoor and outdoor track, played lacrosse and was an active member of the school’s music department. Through it all, Anastasio has remained on the school’s honor roll, and was elected into the National Honor Society, Sociedad Honoraria Hispanica, the Science National Honor Society, the History Honor Society and the Tri-M Music Honor Society.
Outside of school, Anastasio has continued his passion for getting involved, working as a volunteer at the Special Olympics and raising money for the Epilepsy Foundation.
What sets Anastasio apart from most other high school all-stars, however, is his role as a caregiver at home.
“My father was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when I was only 10 years old,” said Anastasio. “I remember him always being a huge influence on me. He signed me up for sports teams, was in the crowd at every game and chauffeured me around on the weekends while my mom was at work. As his disease progressed, I had to learn to accept that he wouldn’t be the one teaching me to drive and he wouldn’t be able to sit in the stands at every game. Instead, I had to be there to help him.”
Diagnosed in 2007, Dario Anastasio has been in the fight against MS for more than seven years. It has robbed him of much of his mobility, but it couldn’t stop him from bearing witness to his son’s biggest game, Newington High’s senior football night.
“It meant a lot to me knowing he was out there watching me that night and I could tell it meant a lot to him, too,” said Anastasio. “It was the first time he’d watched me play football on my high school field.”
As a recipient of the Hayley’s Hope and Michaela’s Miracle MS Memorial Fund Scholarship, Anastasio is thankful that his hard work and dedication throughout high school is being recognized in a tangible way.
More than 6,000 Connecticut residents, like Dario Anastasio, have multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease affecting the central nervous system. 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.
Anastasio 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, on 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.
Program Continues To Grow Across the Country
The Society established its scholarship program for students who have MS or a parent living with MS eleven years ago, and it immediately became a source of great encouragement for families concerned that MS might put college out of reach. This year, over $1.1 million in awards was presented to over 700 new and renewal recipients nationwide. Applications are evaluated on financial need, academic record, leadership and volunteer activities, a statement of educational and career goals, and letters of recommendation. Applicants are also asked to provide a personal statement describing the impact MS has had on their life. Scholarships range from $1,000 to $3,000 and typically cover one year, although a limited number of awards may exceed this amount.
“For the Anastasio family and the hundreds of thousands diagnosed with MS across the country, there are very few known sources of scholarship assistance specially targeted for these families,” said Lisa Gerrol, Connecticut Chapter president and CEO. “MS shouldn’t stand in the way of an education, and we are hopeful this program will give families some relief.”
Scholarship applications for the 2015 school year will be available online in October. For more information on MS or for additional information on 2014 MS scholarship criteria, please contact the Connecticut Chapter at 860.913.2550 or visit www.ctfightsMS.org.
About Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis, an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system, interrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide. It is the number one disabling neurological disease in young to middle-aged adults.
About the National MS Society
MS stops people from moving. The National MS Society exists to make sure it doesn’t. We help each person address the challenges of living with MS. Since its founding in 1946, the Society has allocated more than $771 million to MS research projects around the world. We are people who want to do something about MS NOW. Join the Movement®.
Early and ongoing treatment with an FDA-approved therapy can make a difference for people with multiple sclerosis. Learn about your options by talking to your healthcare professional and contacting the National MS Society at www.nationalMSsociety.org or 1-800-FIGHT-MS (344-4867).
Join the Movement is a registered trademark of the National MS Society.