TRUMBULL, Conn. – Robert Koch Jr., of Trumbull, has been named to receive a National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter, 2014 Hayley’s Hope and Michaela’s Miracle MS Memorial Fund Scholarship.
Koch, 17, a graduate of Trumbull High School, will attend Fordham University, in Bronx, N.Y., to pursue a degree in business.
While Koch strived to excel at all things a normal high school student can do, he went even further. He played baseball, while keeping his grades up in advanced placement and honors courses, eventually attaining a position in the National Honor Society. He worked a part-time job and still had time for friends on the weekends. What makes him really stand out, however, is what he did at home to help his father.
“Every day, my father is consumed by his multiple sclerosis,” said Koch. “I was only five years old when he was first diagnosed, but back then he was relatively healthy. Things started to get harder for him and he began to depend on others as he lost more and more mobility. I had to step up as the man of the house in some ways.”
Diagnosed in 2001, Robert Koch Sr. has been in the fight against MS for 12 years. More than 6,000 Connecticut residents, like Koch’s father, 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.
“It has been difficult watching my father’s health decline, but through our experience with MS, I have learned how to take on even the biggest challenges,” said Koch. “Receiving this scholarship means everything. Helping pay for things like books is a huge relief.”
Koch 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.