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2008 Scholarship Winners

MS Scholarship winners share their stories

Each student who applies for a scholarship writes a one-page essay about living with multiple sclerosis. Here’s a sampling from our 2008 recipients:

Jeff Bleckert, Tacoma
A few years after he was diagnosed, my father was laid off from his job when the plant closed down. For almost a year, he was on unemployment and worked relentlessly to find a new job. During this time, my mother had to take over as the main provider for the household. She went back to school to train to be a teacher. She worked hard every night on top of keeping her regular job in order to earn her degree. This higher education is what helped our family during this hardship, and my mother’s dedication has inspired me to go to college to help the world in whichever way I can.
Jeff Bleckert
Andrea S. Herrera, Gig Harbor
I can remember the moment I recognized what separated my mother from my friends’ mothers. As the new kid on my basketball team, my teammates persuaded me to participate in their annual mother-daughter basketball game. While the other moms obliviously raced each other to the basket, fighting energetically for the ball, my mom struggled in seemingly slow-motion just to make it halfway across the small, elementary-sized basketball court. I remember feeling the tears fill up my eyes. I wanted to pick her up and carry her away...
Andrea Herrera
Renee Kohler, Bothell
Multiple sclerosis affected my life because of my mom. She is an amazing person… I am so proud of her for everything she has accomplished and overcome. I don’t always show that I am, but the little things I do can help her see that I truly love her. She has made me a much stronger person, and I am so proud to be her daughter. I hope that one day when I have children of my own, I can show them the strength and determination that my mom has.
Renee Kohler
Brandi Seaberg, Cathlamet
About a month before starting high school I lost peripheral vision on the right side (and was) diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I had just made the varsity cheerleading squad for football and I was so excited. My position on the squad that year would have been flyer, the person on top of the stunts, had I not lost eyesight. Not being able to fly crushed me.
Brandi Seaberg
Christian J. Search, Vancouver
My dad died in a car accident - a staggering blow to our family. Five of us kids were still at home, and now I really started noticing (Mom’s) MS. Mom is very frugal and now supports herself and my siblings with the Social Security that the kids get from my dad’s death. I am going back to school so I can support both my family and my mom. In the future I hope to buy a place where Mom can live with us. We have always been a close family, and my wife says she didn’t marry just me, she also married my family. We consider it our duty, honor, and privilege to step up and take care of my mother.
Christian Search
Kelly van Gelder, Des Moines
There is no question that I am my mother’s daughter, so when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis it came as no surprise. My initial reaction was to throw down the “It’s not fair” flag. Why me? Weekly injections that make me ill, doctor appointments, fear of the unknown, immobilizing fatigue, financial concerns, and the beat goes on. Yet, there’s my mom, the once crumbling rock who is now galvanized steel. She does not allow MS to control her life. In so many ways she is a better person than she was before. Being her daughter, how is it possible for me to be any less than the example she has set for me?
Kelly van Gelder

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