Jul 09, 2013
Contributed by Molly Sweeney
GUILFORD, Conn. – Jillian S. Melly, Guilford, has been named to receive the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter’s 2013 Hayley’s Hope and Michaela’s Miracle MS Memorial Fund Scholarship.
Melly, 17, a graduate of Guilford High School, will attend High Point University, in High Point, N.C.
Melly has been greatly involved in her school community. She was a member of her high school’s field hockey team for four years, and was named the Most Valuable Player for Defense. Melly has also served as a teacher’s aide for the Guilford High School Capstone Project and a coach for Girls Coach Girls Run.
Melly’s life does not just consist of balancing schoolwork, athletics and coaching opportunities. She is also faced with assisting her mother, Robin, with household tasks and everyday life. Robin Melly was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2012.
Despite the difficulties of living with a parent with MS, Melly saw great success during her senior year. She made Guilford High School’s honor roll and her field hockey team qualified for the Class M state championship game.
“They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and that played true for me,” shared Melly. “Even though it was hard, my mom’s condition taught me perseverance and the importance of hard work.”
More than 6,000 Connecticut residents, like Robin Melly, have multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease affecting the central nervous system. Multiple sclerosis generally affects women more than men and is most often diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50. Symptoms can include numbness and tingling in the limbs, difficulties with speech and vision and, in some severe cases, complete paralysis. There is no cure for multiple sclerosis.
Melly 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 6. She is one of 16 high school graduates who received a 2013 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 helping raise funds to support scientific research for a cure.
“Even though I can tear up at the idea of leaving my mom, I know that my dad will take good care of her,” Melly said. “I now feel ready to move on to the next step in my life by going to college.”
Scholarship applications for the 2014 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.
Molly Sweeney, of Hebron, is a sophomore at Assumption College, located in Worcester, Mass. Sweeney is volunteering with the Communications Department of the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter.