SHELTON, Conn. – Danielle Letendre, of Shelton, has been named to receive a National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter’s 2014 Hayley’s Hope and Michaela’s Miracle MS Memorial Fund Scholarship.
Letendre, 17, a graduate of Shelton High School, will enroll in a six-year health science program at Springfield College this fall.
In addition to a roster full of AP courses and a four-year term on Shelton High School’s student council parliamentarian executive board, Letendre was also a four-year member and three-year varsity letterman on both indoor and outdoor track and field.
It was through this passion for sports that Letendre discovered her dream of becoming a physical therapist. After suffering a severe sports injury, which left doctors thinking she would never reach full mobility in her ankle again, Letendre was introduced to the world of physical therapy.
“After two months of physical therapy, I achieved the unattainable: my ankle had full rotation and I could sprint,” said Letendre. “I was so intrigued that I went on to intern at the same facility where I received my treatment. I learned so much from my time there and I can’t wait to be on the other end of the recovery process by guiding someone through their challenges to reach their goals.”
Letendre’s greatest inspiration is her mother, Laurie. While as a child it was hard to understand what MS actually was, Letendre grew to understand her mother’s daily battle and developed a greater appreciation for her mother’s resilience in the face of an incurable illness.
“I had no idea what the disease was when my mom told me she had MS,” said Letendre, whose mother, Laurie Letendre, has been in the fight against MS for 15 years. “Once I did some research, I finally came to understand why she stayed inside while we shoveled snow with our dad all those years. When she thinks no one is looking, I see her freeze from the pain she experiences, yet she doesn’t complain. It is times like these, I see what a true super hero she is and if I could be half the person that she is, I will be satisfied with my life.”
As a recipient of the Hayley’s Hope and Michaela’s Miracle MS Memorial Fund Scholarship, Letendre is grateful to know that organizations such as the National MS Society are able to recognize the hard work of students who are facing challenges at home.
More than 6,000 Connecticut residents, like Laurie Letendre, 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.
Letendre 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. She 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.