May 19, 2014 -- The Greater Illinois Chapter of the National MS Society has announced 15 new recipients of $1,000 college scholarships through its annual Scholarship Program. The 2014 MS scholarship recipients include Addison Schwaller, of Sheridan, who is a senior at the Illinois Math and Science Academy.
The 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.
“MS has proven to be a continuous struggle for my parents, my siblings, and I as we have tried to cope with the situation,” explained Schwaller in her scholarship application essay. “More importantly, though, it has given me the strength to accept this situation and has pushed me to mature faster.”
The Society established its scholarship program 11 years ago, and it immediately became a source of great encouragement for families concerned that MS might put college out of reach. This year, over $1.1 million in awards was presented to over 700 new and renewal recipients 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.
“Multiple sclerosis not only has a huge impact on the individual living with the disease, but on their loved ones as well. For 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 John Blazek, President of the Greater Illinois Chapter. “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 2015-16 will be available on the National MS Society Web site on October 1st. 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. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The Greater Illinois Chapter mobilizes people and resources to drive research for a cure and to address the challenges of everyone affected by MS. The Chapter envisions a world free of MS and moves toward that end by driving change through advocacy, facilitating education, collaborating with others and by providing helpful programs and services. Visit MSIllinois.org for more information.