Sean, a graduating high school senior diagnosed with kidney disease, won the best essay award at the Kurt R. Weiss Scholarship Reception earlier this month. His wish to Hawaii helped him realize he could do anything if he believes in himself.
"One of the highlights of my recovery was being granted a wish. My wish helped my family bond and I proved to myself that I could do anything if I put my mind to it. On the trip, I climbed Diamond Head and did not need to be carried down."
Although the amputation of his hands and legs has changed his path in life, it has not stopped his motivation. Instead, he wants to devote his life to paying it forward and helping others.
"Because I could no longer excel on the sports field, I channeled my energies into my studies. I am planning to attend Penn State not to play football, but to study bioengineering. I want to give back to the community that aided me when I was sick. I want to develop prosthetic devices that are lighter, more durable and less costly so all amputees can regain their mobility. This scholarship will enable me to reach that goal."
Angela, who was granted her wish to be a model in 2011, said she saw the cruelty of the world for the first time when she was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. The spring after her diagnosis, she discovered the art of photography and it quickly became her passion. As she gets ready to attend Cedarville University in the fall, she knows she wants to make a difference in the lives of other people. She writes, "Because of my EDS, I cannot be a police officer and put criminals behind bars. I cannot be a firefighter and save houses from burning down. I cannot be an EMT and save people’s lives. Because of EDS, there are many things I cannot do, but I can be an artist. With an art education, I will be able to further my talents and become a better artist. I want to make a difference in someone’s life by inspiring them through my art. I want to show someone who is struggling that despite the pain and struggle we have to face, there is still beauty and hope in our world."
Like Kurt R. Weiss, who conquered his battle with bone cancer and went on to become an orthopaedic surgeon to help others battling cancer, Angela, Sean and all of our graduating wish kids, who were honored at a reception at PNC Park for their achievements, are determined to reach their goals. We wish all of our wish kids the best of luck in all their future endeavors as they graduate from high school. Congratulations!