ISF Awards Five Local Students with Scholarship For Impact in the Cancer Community
As part of The LIVE MY DREAMS Program, ISF established a very special scholarship several years ago in honor of Isabella. We felt it was a wonderful way to recognize special young adults in her name, as they transition into a new phase of life. Each year, we have been so proud of its recipients and love the tradition we created in her memory.
This year, we had the privilege of granting not only one, but five scholarships to local area students who demonstrated making a positive impact in our community related to cancer awareness or action in the fight against rare pediatric cancers.
We are so excited to share them with you…
Gavin has battled cancer more than once. Because of this, he has shifted his dream from working in law enforcement to helping people by working in the healthcare industry. He has seen the effects of going through his battle with Neuroblastoma not only as an elementary school kid but as a teenager too. Gavin said, “Seeing kids have to go through what I have been through makes me sad and angry. So now I want to help kids by being a pediatrician.” Through his cancer battles, Gavin has been a role model for many in the community because of his positive attitude and drive to ‘cowboy up’ and get through adversity. Gavin said “my attitude helped me show everyone that cancer was just a “Minor Setback, for a Major Comeback!”. Gavin partnered with ISF to sell shirts with that special motivating phrase and donated the proceeds to the foundation. Gavin’s passion for football and his team drove him to continue to play during cancer treatment. He advises to never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something due to your circumstances. “Nothing would stand in my way. Not only did I play, but we were undefeated in the conference, I was named All-Conference, Offensive MVP, and the next year was named the 3rd All-time leading passing quarterback in North Davidson’s history. I did all that during chemotherapy, radiation, and feeling terrible during those weeks.” Gavin shared his inspiring story and attitude with our ISF summer interns in 2021. He said, “I know for a fact that ISF is one of the coolest opportunities when it comes to interacting within the cancer community. ISF has for sure changed my life and helped me throughout my journey with cancer.” Gavin will be attending Methodist University.
Amanda likes the quote from Kung Fu Panda… ‘Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift, that is why they call it the present.’ She had learned to focus on today because her life turned upside down when she was 15 and diagnosed with cancer. It was awful and long and isolating. In her words, “I pulled myself up and decided that I was going to dictate my future and not let this illness dictate what I was and was not going to do.” Cancer messed with the wrong kid! She now proudly defines herself as a warrior. Her body and soul have the scars to prove it. Her cancer journey has reinforced her passion for a career in the health industry. She has volunteered several times with ISF, helping other kids and families who are going through what she went through. She is turning her pain into purpose. Amanda will be studying Nursing at the University of Tennessee.
Adam had to delay the start of college due to a cancer diagnosis just weeks after his high school graduation. Adam said, “Being diagnosed with cancer and now a survivor has changed my whole outlook on life.” He now greatly appreciates healthcare workers and understands the power of a good support system around you. He would advise other kids going through something similar “to stay strong and positive. Have faith and keep believing you will get through the dark days. Do what makes you laugh and smile.” He and his family, TEAM ADAM, have sponsored a hole at our annual golf tournament each year and Adam told his story at our golf reception. His dream is to design the world’s most amazing roller coasters. Adam is a rising Sophomore majoring in Civil Engineering at the University of South Carolina.
Hannah has volunteered for the past 7 years at the ISF 5K for Kids Cancer Event each September. She also volunteered at the ISF Luminary event in 2021 and this year she joined us at our fundraising event in March, helping to ensure a successful event. Hannah’s support of the cancer community made her realize “how lucky I am that I get to celebrate holidays at home with my family, not having to worry about being stuck in a hospital like many cancer patients frequently have to. Hearing the stories of strong cancer fighters like Isabella, my cousin Stephen, and other friends of my family, I began to think about how I sometimes take my position in this world for granted.” One of Hannah’s teachers told the class the only way we can truly be happy is by using generosity to help others as much as possible. This resonated with Hannah. She said she wants to be successful in life so she can make others happy. Hannah will be attending Brigham Young University.
Kasen volunteered as an ISF intern last summer, spending time learning about Isabella’s story, our mission, and rare cancers. In his own words, “dedicating my time to ISF last summer not only made a positive difference in our community, it had a profound impact on my life.” He is returning this summer in a paid position, leading a team of high school and college kids to spread awareness about ISF and raise funds to help improve treatments. He has volunteered and participated in several ISF events over the years. Kasen will be attending High Point University to study Hospitality and Event Management.
Congratulations to these amazing students! We are honored to have you as part of our ISF family!