2013 Scholarship Recipients!

Congratulations to Malia Casali, Alex Sanchez, Hosam Hadid, Martiara Williams,Alexandra Koscielak, Jim Bruce, Hasan Hadid, Justin Rodriguez, Jamie Zhe-Sharpe and Patrick Ryan, our 2013 scholarship winners.

MaliaMalia Casali has been through a lot in her young life.  Before being taken into an orphanage at the age of three, Malia was found by a mentally challenged and abusive woman after being abandoned alongside a river in China by her birth parents.  As a baby, Malia was scalded by boiling water which caused untreated burns that prevented Malia from learning how to walk until the age of four.  Luckily, Malia was adopted and brought to the United States where, despite struggling through learning disabilities, Malia has become an exemplary student.  The recipient of the 2013 Jorge Mijares memorial scholarship, Malia will be entering her third year at Southern Illinois University where she is studying to become a dental hygienist.

AlexAlejandro (Alex) Sanchez, the recipient of the 2013 Dan Yost memorial scholarship, is a warm, caring young man with aspirations of becoming a writer.  When Alex was only eighteen months old, the car he was in with his mother was rear-ended, claiming his mother’s life and leaving him with extensive burns.  But the scars and physical damage left behind have only helped Alex learn that physical handicaps are just a mere obstacle and are not what defines a person.  As such, Alex was a very successful reporter and editor for the Wright Times, the student newspaper of Wilbur Wright Community college.  He hopes to continue that success this year at Loyola University in Chicago while pursuing a creative writing degree.

HosamHosam (Sam) Hadid, the recipient of the 2013 Tim Miller memorial scholarship,  is an ambitious, hardworking young man attending Saint Xavier University in Chicago where he is majoring in Political Science and Pre-Med.  As a young teenager, Sam’s family tried starting a fire in their home using gasoline because the gas starter wouldn’t work.  The gasoline can exploded, setting his mother and the house on fire.  When Sam realized his little sister was still in the house, he showed no hesitation in rushing back into the house to find her.  Incredibly, Sam found her on the bed in flames and had the presence of mind to put the fire out in the tub before getting them both out of the house.

MartiaraMartiara Williams was a young girl when eager to help her mother around the house.  Unfortunately, this led to her spilling boiling water on herself, resulting in a four month recovery.  The isolation of recovery caused Tiara to “lock up in a shell” until she began attending Camp I Am Me for young burn survivors.  There, she made close friends and found the support she needed to open up again and feel comfortable with herself as a burn survivor.  Now, Tiara is a young woman pursuing a degree in family, consumer and nutrition sciences at Northern Illinois University and the recipient of the 2013 Kelly Skiles memorial scholarship.

WilliamAlexandra (Lexi) Koscielak is a brave young woman who battled through a bout with TENS (Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis), a life threatening skin disorder that covered nearly 40% of Lexi’s body with burn-like lesions.  Thankfully, Lexi has made a near full recovery after losing her entire summer of 2010 fighting the disorder and recovering.  Her fight with TENS is definitely not what defines Lexi.  She is a devoted and proud sister to her autistic brother, and, spurred along by her mom’s professional work in the special education field, Lexi has always been very involved in helping the disabled community.  She continues to pursue a degree in interior design at the Illinois Institute of Art and is the recipient of the 2013 Alex Collazo memorial scholarship.

JimWilliam “Jim” Bruce was seventeen in the summer of 2009 when intending to burn away some brush and leaves so the yard could be mowed the next day.  Despite sustaining burns to 37% of his body, he hasn’t let it hold him back from striving to reach his goals.  Over the last two years while studying for a degree in the field of medicine, Jim has traveled to Mumbai, India to shadow a surgeon while also shadowing surgeons at Christ and Rush hospitals in Chicago.  Entering the fourth year of his collegiate career, Jim is in the midst of diligently working toward becoming a surgeon while crediting his experience as a burn survivor for leading him into the field of medicine.

JimmyHasan Hadid was burned at the age of 9, along with his brother, when a gasoline can exploded and set the house on fire.  Hasan bravely helped get his family out of the house and helped to put the flames out that engulfed his mother.  After that event, Hasan taught himself how to cook, clean and take care of the house in the wake of his mother’s extensive injuries.  It has led Hasan toward a career in Hospitality Management with an eye toward working for high-end hotels, cruise lines and restaurants.  Currently working part-time as a supervisor at his uncle’s restaurant, Nana’s Gyros, Hasan will pursue his degree this fall at Kendall College in Chicago.

BridgetJustin Rodriguez will be receiving a FTTTF scholarship for the first time this fall.  Justin was only four years old when he decided to play with fire, leaving Justin and his twin brother Jordan trapped inside his burning house.  Luckily for the two children, they were saved by two good Samaritans who heard his mother’s screams for help.  Justin has since attended Camp I Am Me and now returns every summer to volunteer as a camp counselor.  At twenty three years old, Justin isn’t quite sure what route he will take with his collegiate career, he just knows that he wants to pass his experiences on to others and make a difference in people’s lives just how many of the great people in his life helped him recover from his burn injuries, both physically and emotionally.

Jamie Jamie Zhe-Sharpe is a bright, young woman with one year left at Illinois State.  Only three years ago, Jamie was working for the street department filling holes in the road when the machine that keeps the mix hot exploded.  Jamie unfortunately had the right side of her face and her right arm burned.  Post-recovery, Jamie developed an intense fear of fire, but after going away to college and learning to make it on her own, she now thinks that her challenges as a burn survivor will provide her with invaluable experience in her desired field of Recreational Therapy.  Since receiving a Tragedy to Triumph Foundation scholarship in 2012, Jamie has married.

PatrickPatrick Ryan will be entering his junior year in college in the fall of 2013.  At the age of fourteen, a gasoline can exploded in the garage where he and his friends were attempting to put together a bonfire.  The explosion sent Patrick to the Loyola burn ICU where he spent seventeen days suffering from second and third degree burns.  Patrick missed three months of his freshman year of high school recovering from his injuries including re-learning how to walk due to the damage done to his left leg.  Receiving a FTTTF scholarship for the third year, Patrick is making a big change and transferring to Florida State University from DePaul University to continue his finance studies.