The National MS Society established the Scholarship Program eleven years ago and it immediately became a source of great encouragement for families concerned that MS might put college out of reach. In its first year of operation the program awarded 36 scholarships for a total of $68,000.This year, over $1.1 million in awards was presented to 718 new and renewal recipients nationwide. Scholarships generally range from $1,000 to $3,000 and were awarded to four students in the Ohio Buckeye Chapter although one student living with MS has chosen not to disclose the diagnosis. The other three recipients are:
Phoebe Breckenridge graduated from Austintown Fitch High School and chose to attend Youngstown State University where she will major in journalism. Her mom, Marcy, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1992 before Phoebe was born so the chronic, unpredictable disease of the central nervous system has always been a part of her life.
“Whether it’s driving my mom to a doctor’s appointment, helping her walk through a store or helping her back up when she has fallen, MS is not an easy thing to watch someone go through,” Phoebe said. “MS complicates life in a way that someone who does not see it can never understand.”
Julie Demboski, a graduate of Lake High School, decided to attend the University of Cincinnati and major in criminal justice. Her mom, Barb, was recently diagnosed with MS although she had symptoms for many years.
“My mom was always slow, tired and could never keep up but I never knew why,” Julie said about her life prior to her mom’s diagnosis. “My childhood was really hard but you can’t change the past. All you can do is get past it and work on a better future which is exactly what I plan to do.”
Hannah Maynard, who graduated from Rutherford B. Hayes High School, planned to attend Capital University and major in pre-medical biology. Her dad, Jeff, was diagnosed with MS about 14 years ago. While Hannah was in high school, Jeff started to run on a regular basis and he has completed three half marathons, including the Capital City Half Marathon that he ran with Hannah in May 2014.
“He isn’t the champion of any races but he’s the biggest champion my world has known,” Hannah said. “Watching him compete, I have come to understand that I should live my life like this. He has given me inspiration to take on tasks that I never thought I would do.”
Congratulations to each of the scholarship recipients and best of luck to them as they begin their college education.
The National MS Society established the Scholarship Program in 2003 for people living with MS or their children who were pursuing a college or technical school education. Information about scholarships for 2015-16 will be available on the National MS Society website on October 1, 2014. For more information, please visit nationalMSsociety.org/scholarship or call 800-344-4867.