The LiveLikeLou Foundation awarded 2022 Iron Horse Scholarships to four dependents of ALS families, bringing the number of awardees to sixteen since the national charity kicked off in 2018. Once again, six one-time ONWARD Awards were granted to semi-finalists. The Iron Horse Scholarship Committee, led by LiveLikeLou Treasurer and Phi Delt Greyson Geiler, Nebraska ’93, reviewed applications from a competitive pool of more than fifty applicants from throughout the United States and began the selection process in April.
Congratulations to LiveLikeLou’s 2022 Iron Horse Scholarship recipients!
Tag Bender is a sophomore at Indiana University studying real estate finance. Tag’s father was diagnosed with ALS in 2016 when Tag was thirteen. During high school, Tag graduated with honors, completed over forty-five volunteer hours, and was a member of the National Honor Society.
One trait he admires is his dad’s attitude towards life. “He is the most positive person I know and has taught me no matter what life throws at you, you can always control your attitude. I have taken that approach every day since then. This is something that will stick with me for the rest of my life.”
Erica Benton attends Lorain County Community College in Elyria, Ohio, and is studying clinical laboratory science. Erica and her family have a history of ALS, with her granddad passing before she was born. Her father was diagnosed in 2019, followed by her brother during the pandemic after a genetic test revealed he had the same gene mutation as their father.
After researching ALS, Erica realized that treatments had not advanced much since her granddad. “I decided then I could contribute. Healthcare and research start in the laboratory setting, and if I’m going to ask ‘why,’ then I need to assist in finding the answer. I am a full-time clinical laboratory student, but I am a caregiver first.” Her goal is to help the physician in the diagnosis and treatment of disease through quality analysis of specimens.
Maya Bulmer is a junior at Mills College in Oakland, California, pursuing a bachelor of arts in public health. Maya’s mother was diagnosed with ALS in 2019. During high school, Maya was active in the National Honor Society, Tulsa Youth Rowing Association, and participated in the International Baccalaureate degree program.
“As the oldest of three children and my parent’s only daughter, my mother and I always had a very close and special relationship, and she’s always been my biggest supporter. She convinced me that living the lives we dreamed of and planned for is the best way to beat ALS. She confided in me that my dream of going away to college was also her dream for me, and that we could not let ALS deprive us of the joys that dream would bring to both of us.”
“I did not abandon my dream of college.” Maya graduated high school and then spent ten months with the Americorps National Civilian Community Corps in the Pacific Northwest before starting at Mills College. “My mother’s diagnosis exposed me to a lot of challenges and inequities in our health system, and the pandemic brought those issues even more to light. Pursuing a degree and a career in public health will allow me to combine my interest in health equity and my desire to find a career that allows me to help make people’s lives and the world a better place.”
Olin Thompson IV is a sophomore studying ocean engineering at the University of Rhode Island. Olin’s father, Olin Thompson III, was diagnosed with ALS in 2018 and passed away on July 18, 2022. In 2021, Olin was named the Outstanding Senior by the East Greenwich High School. This award represents great academic achievement and is an outstanding community member. That same year he received the East Greenwich Community Athlete Award. This award is given to two student-athletes who demonstrate excellence on and off the field. He was recognized for coaching soccer clinics for children.
“Fear is something that takes control of all of our lives. As a kid, it was the monster under the bed, as a teenager growing into an adult, it has turned into my father having ALS. We all have fears, but courage is the ability to deal with and thrive when confronted with fear. Courage is something that I have learned from both my parents. As a kid, we looked to our parents to check under the bed for a monster but as an adult, I had to look to my courage to deal with my fear.”
“I hope to use my ocean engineering to work in the sustainable energy field. Rhode Island is at the forefront of offshore wind farming. As the world moves towards sustainable energy, I will do my part by engineering better wind farms, or my personal pet idea of harnessing tidal energy.”
Congratulations to LiveLikeLou’s 2022 ONWARD Award recipients:
Micah Bullock, Transylvania University
Abigail Lauer, Minnesota State University, Mankato
Hannah Lauer, University of Minnesota Duluth
Mariah Shaver, Hope College
John Shipley, University of Louisville
Kylee Viayra, University of California, Riverside