“Weather all the storms with courage and never give up” – 2020 Scholarship Awardee Cameron Toton
The LiveLikeLou Foundation has awarded the 2020 Iron Horse Scholarships to four dependents of ALS families, bringing the number of awardees to eight since the national charity kicked off in 2018. The Iron Horse Scholarship Committee, led by LiveLikeLou Treasurer and Phi Delt Greyson Geiler, Nebraska ’93, reviewed applications from across the country and began the selection process last spring.
“It is very rewarding to offer support to these awesome kids,” said Suzanne Alexander, Director of LiveLikeLou. “These scholarships can actually change the lives of the families who receive the funds.”
Applicants must submit two personal essays that reflect on their experience with ALS and their hopes for the future.
“Reading the essays of the scholarship applicants really brings the devastation of ALS home to our review committee,” Greyson said. “These kids live with caregiving responsibilities, grief and financial burdens that can last decades.”
He added, “And every single applicant we have reviewed so far has come through their ALS experience with empathy, perseverance, and wisdom that many people never attain.”
Each scholarship provides up to $2,130 and is renewable for up to eight semesters. The LiveLikeLou Foundation is actively raising funds for the awardees’ remaining need and hopes to add even more recipients in the future. Currently there are more 20 prospective awardees on the waiting list.
LiveLikeLou Chairman WL Gray, Texas Christian ’70 said, “We want all recipients to understand the legacy of The Iron Horse Lou Gehrig was strength, courage, and gratitude. So we chose 2,130 to celebrate Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games-played record.”
“We are really proud we can honor Brother Lou and help these families as well,” said Greyson.
Congratulations to the awardees of the 2020 Iron Horse Scholarship!
Kade Kilgore completed his Associates Degree in auto mechanics from Lewis Clark State College this spring and will return in the fall to pursue a bachelor’s degree in fire science. His dream is to one day own a mechanic shop and be a seasonal firefighter – a high demand skill in his home in eastern Oregon.
Kade worked hard through high school, volunteered for civic projects, and was the captain of his varsity basketball team. Kade’s dad worked in law enforcement for many years. When he was diagnosed with ALS in 2018, it was a devastating moment in the life of their family. But, despite the hardship that comes with the diagnosis, he always encouraged Kade to finish college and pursue a career he would enjoy, saying “if you love what you do, it won’t be work.”
Kade writes that his dad’s expectations of him motivate him every day, and he is determined to make his dad proud and pursue his dreams.
Samantha Newport is a rising junior at Concordia University in Irvine, California, seeking a bachelor’s degree in graphic design. Throughout her high school experience Samantha was involved in creative projects, writing, and illustrating a children’s book, publishing digital artwork, and illustrating a chapter of a foreign-language book. Her most personal gifts are portraits of her family members that have passed.
Samantha’s dad was diagnosed with ALS soon after she began her college career. She would spend her week on campus and commute home each weekend to help her mom and be with her family. Her dad died from his disease after a very short period. Although the financial blow to their family could easily have derailed her plans, her dad’s hopes for Samantha were clear: that she should continue her education and pursue her dreams to be a professional artist one day. He told her he was proud of her no matter what.
Cameron Toton will be a freshman at Michigan State University this fall, pursuing a degree in Psychology. At Troy High School Cameron ran cross country and his hockey team won the district championships. His dream is to become a psychologist and help young people like himself as they face big challenges.
Cameron’s dad also went to Michigan State. He must have been a very fine man, adopting his only son from Guatemala when Cameron was a baby. Cameron writes very poignantly about his dad’s journey with ALS and the impact it had on him as a young man. Ultimately his dad passed away from ALS during his junior year of high school, leaving Cameron with lessons of compassion and determination to build a positive future.
Cameron writes the words of his dad that help him persevere through hard moments are, “Weather all the storms with courage and never give up.”
Audrey Charlton grew up in Chagrin Falls, Ohio and will be a freshman at The University of Alabama this fall. Her father was diagnosed with ALS in 2010 and, against all odds, he is alive and able to send his daughter off to college.
Audrey has the unique perspective of having two beloved adults in her life battle the disease of ALS – a dear family friend died from the condition three years ago. Together with her dad and their broad circle of family and friends, Audrey’s community has advocated for the cause of ALS and raised funds for research in Northern Ohio for years.
She writes that watching her mom be a full-time caregiver to her dad, and helping her dad through the journey of ALS losses has taught her empathy, the importance of helping others, and gratitude for the things she still has in life.
“ALS has taught me that I am very fortunate,” Audrey says.