By: Brandi Moore | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: December 2012
Scholarship recipient and Broken Arrow resident Sean Barger.
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society: Oklahoma has announced this year’s recipients of its annual scholarship program: Taylor Aldridge, Sean Barger, Christopher Basden, Whitney Force, Colby Gibson, Alli Martin, Shelby Noland, Jessica Potter, Macayla Potter and Shelby Reeves.
The annual scholarship program helps students affected by multiple sclerosis pursue a college or technical school education. It is open to high school seniors who live with MS or have a parent who does, or anybody living with MS who has not yet been to a post-secondary school.
In addition to the emotional toll, MS can have a substantial financial impact on a family. The direct and indirect costs of MS, including lost wages – even for those with health insurance – are estimated at more than $70,000 annually per household. This makes funding a college education that much harder.
“If I could, I would want my dad’s MS to be given to me for 10 years so he could feel good again and be given a time of rest, but I know this is not possible,” said Sean Barger, Broken Arrow scholarship winner. “My parents have always encouraged me to complete my education so I can fulfill my goals and dreams not only for myself but for the family I hope to have one day.”
“We are pleased to say that the National MS Society: Oklahoma provided 10 high school seniors with college scholarships for the 2012 school year,” said Sharleen Dupee, director of programs and services for the National MS Society: Oklahoma. “This scholarship program exists to help highly qualified students who have been diagnosed with MS or who have a parent with MS achieve their dreams of going to college.”
The Society established its scholarship program nine years ago, and it immediately became a source of great encouragement for families concerned that MS might put college out of reach. This year, 409 new awards and 236 renewals totaling $1,136,175 were presented nationwide. Applications are evaluated on financial need, academic record, leadership and volunteer activities, a statement of educational and career goals, and letters of recommendation. Applicants are also asked to provide a personal statement describing the impact MS has had on their life. Scholarships range from $1,000 to $3,000 and typically cover one year, although a limited number of awards may exceed this amount.
“For the Barger family and the hundreds of thousands diagnosed with MS across the country, there are very few known sources of scholarship assistance specially targeted for these families,” said Dupee. “MS shouldn’t stand in the way of an education, and we are hopeful this program will give families some relief.”
Information about scholarships for 2013-14 will be available on the National MS Society website on October 1, 2012. For more information, call 1-800-344-4867 or visit www.nationalMSsociety.org/scholarship.
Multiple sclerosis, an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system, interrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Every hour in the United States, someone is newly diagnosed with the disease. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 400,000 people in the United States and over 2.1 million worldwide. The National MS Society addresses the challenges of each person affected by MS by funding cutting-edge research, driving change through advocacy, facilitating professional education, collaborating with MS organizations around the world, and providing programs and services designed to help people with MS and their families move forward with their lives.