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Wishing Well Blog

Alina's Empowerment

Alina Header 2019
On Friday, May 24, more than 50 wish kids came to PNC Park as part of the Kurt Weiss Scholarship Reception. Each year, Pittsburgh Pirates Charities and Make-A-Wish® award scholarships to wish kids pursuing secondary education. To date, more than 780 wish kids have received a monetary gift through the scholarship program.

To receive a scholarship, wish kids are asked to submit an application including an essay about their wish experience and how it has impacted their life. 

This year, Alina of Jeanette, PA, won the Best Essay Award. In June of 2018, she was granted her wish to meet her favorite pop star. Take a look at Alina's award-winning essay:

"At age 16, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma. The time previously reserved for tackling my homework was now taken up by regular chemotherapy treatments. Muscle pain and nausea replaced the youthful energy I once had; my body was fighting against me. Everything important to me before my diagnosis suddenly seemed miniscule. However, I was determined to get back on track. I decided if this was the life I was supposed to live, then I was resolved to make it a good one. 

I never wanted to become “the girl with cancer,” so I became the girl with big dreams and goals. I wanted to control my life instead of letting it control me and being creative helped me do that by allowing me to deal with my emotions. Losing my hair not only made me look like a completely different person, but it also changed my perception of appearances. My idea of beauty became altered, and I turned to fashion and art to express myself in ways I thought I never would again. I felt inspired by the looks of unconventional female beauty and those living without fear of judgement. 

After this epiphany, I reinvented myself entirely. My newfound level of creative expression helped me take on a different identity daily, instilling a sense of confidence and empowerment I had never experienced before. Design was an alternative I grew to embrace. My blooming love for fashion mixed with my infatuation of art spiraled into aspirations for a future career path that I intend to succeed in. 

I am no longer afraid of the challenges that lie ahead of me. In fact, I welcome them. A diagnosis I first thought was putting my life on hold actually made me take control and go beyond the life I was given, and I know that continuing my dream of going to college will allow me to keep going forward."


Are you a rising senior or junior in high school? Keep an eye out for next year's Kurt Weiss Scholarship deadline. If you want to help support wishes at your school, become a member of the Make-A-Wish® Youth Leadership Council. For more information on scholarships or becoming a Youth Leadership Council member, contact Samara Silverstein at or 412.471.9474

About this Blog

This blog brings Make-A-Wish Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia to you -- sharing first-person stories of the Make-A-Wish experience and the impact of a wish from the perspectives of wish families, volunteers and staff. This blog highlights wishes come true and the special people in Pennsylvania and West Virginia that help create life-changing experiences for every eligible child.

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Make-A-Wish® Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia, Inc.
The Gulf Tower
707 Grant Street, 37th Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15219-1938
(412) 471-9474
Toll Free (800) 676-9474
Make-A-Wish® Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia, Southern West Virginia Office
888 Oakwood Rd
Oakwood Center, Suite 330
Charleston, WV 25314
(304) 342-9474
Toll Free (800) 664-9474
Make-A-Wish® Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia, Northern West Virginia Office
913 Canyon Road
Morgantown, WV 26508
(304) 292-5600
Toll Free (888) 808-9474