AFA Seeks Essays from Teens for its Alzheimer’s Awareness College Scholarship Contest

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by Mary Chapman |

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With its annual essay competition, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) is again offering high schoolers affected by Alzheimer’s disease a chance to motivate others and earn money for college.

In the AFA Teens for Alzheimer’s Awareness College Scholarship Essay Contest, college-bound high school seniors nationwide are invited to describe, in 1,200 to 1,500 words, how the disease has affected their lives, and what coping has taught them about themselves, their family or community. In the narrative, students also must explain what they plan to do to help battle Alzheimer’s. The submission deadline is Jan. 17.

“The next generation of leaders in the fight against Alzheimer’s is already hard at work,” said Charles J. Fuschillo Jr., AFA’s president and CEO, in a press release. “Throughout the country, children serve as family caregivers to a loved one with Alzheimer’s, volunteer to help others living with the disease, and get involved in raising awareness. Every teen who openly shares their experiences with Alzheimer’s helps to educate others and inspire them to make a difference,” he said.

The contest is open to high school seniors who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents and who will enter a four-year accredited academic institution within a year of the application deadline. High school transcripts are required. College students are ineligible.

The grand prize winner will earn a $5,000 scholarship. Runner-up prizes are $2,500, $1,500, $1,000 and $750. The honorable mention award is $500. Last year, the organization awarded roughly $30,000 in scholarships to more than 30 students.

Jason Sitt of Lynbrook, N.Y. captured last year’s top prize, writing about his grandfather, who developed Alzheimer’s. “When it began is unknown to me, but I do remember that summer day when the phone rang. Mom answered immediately, her voice full of confusion and dismay, and it was the first time I heard Grandma cry. Grandpa had left. Where he went exactly is still also unknown to me, but eventually, he found his way home, and sporadic episodes like these became all too common. Soon, phone calls at 3 p.m. became what I dreaded most. It was a vicious cycle.”

Second place winner last year was Abigail Ransom of Ambler, Pennsylvania. Her essay was about her experience working in a retirement home and interacting with residents who were Alzheimer’s patients. “I saw Mrs. Latimer’s untouched plate sitting on the side of the table. Before taking it, I asked her if she had finished eating. ‘Well, I have acid reflux, so I can’t eat tomatoes,’ she said, picking up a red pepper, ‘or lemons,’ maneuvering a piece of squash with her fork. … Rather than arguing that the vegetables on her plate did not include tomatoes or lemons, I brought a plate of broccoli to replace the mixed vegetables.”

Visit this site for more contest information or to submit essays.

Some 5.8 million U.S. residents are living with Alzheimer’s, a number projected to rise to 14 million by 2050. The AFA provides support, services and education to individuals, families and caregivers affected by Alzheimer’s and related dementia, and funds treatment research.

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