Isabelle Christenson Memorial Scholarship Winners
On May 9, 2011, Brianna Anderson lost her younger brother, Aaron, in a tragic car accident. Brianna and her parents wholeheartedly agreed to Aaron becoming a donor. Brianna explains that, although this was a terrible loss for her family, they have found some peace knowing that Aaron helped others. Both Brianna and her mother are volunteers for CORE and continue to advocate for the importance of donation and saving lives, just like Aaron did. Brianna participated in the Donate Life National Blue and Green Day at school and raised $270 from school employees in only one week. Brianna's mother speaks at various events, including Special Place in both Pittsburgh and West Virginia. Brianna considers her younger brother a hero.
Brianna plans to continue her studies in college and work on attaining her Accounting degree. She is double-majoring in both Accounting and Business Administration. In the future, she hopes to become a certified accountant and run her own business.
Approximately two years ago, Maria's mother received a kidney transplant. The need for such a transplant arose when her mother suffered a severe fracture to her arm and, during recovery, she went into kidney failure and remained in the hospital for two months. Her mother's kidneys were only functioning at ten percent. Maria's uncle, Gene, volunteered to be tested and was ultimately a match. Maria's mother was lucky enough to have five siblings, all of whom volunteered to be tested. Maria was amazed by the transplant process and how the team of individuals worked together to save her mother's life. Maria's mother is a single parent and her best friend. Maria realized that without the transplant, her mother would not be here today and her mother's experience became a huge part of Maria's life. Maria dedicated her senior project on the organ donation and transplantation process, raising awareness about organ donation and aiming to raise money for Izzie's Gifts of Hope Foundation.
Maria will be attending Pennsylvania State University, Altoona, in the fall semester of 2014. She plans to major in Early Childhood Education and minor in Special Education. Maria hopes to complete her Master's Degree in teaching and special education at Pennsylvania State University, University Park.
Brittany was previously diagnosed with restrictive cardiomyopathy, a disease in which the heart stiffens and eventually will not pump blood through the body. After two years of facing this diagnosis and continuous visits to the doctor, she received her heart transplant at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh on May 4, 2007. As a volunteer for CORE, Brittany has spoken at local high schools, community events, health fairs, hospitals and CORE events to discuss her experience.
Brittany has been accepted to Pennsylvania State University, Behrend, Seton Hill University, and Pennsylvania State University, Erie. She plans to continue her studies in Communications and Visual Arts. She also hopes to continue volunteering and speaking for CORE in the future.
Brynn's father was diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease and needed a kidney transplant. All of her father's brothers volunteered to be tested to determine whether they were a match for her father. Fortunately, Brynn's uncle, Lee, was a match and, after a very difficult and emotional waiting period, donated his kidney to her father. Although this transplant has positively affected her father, he has faced some difficult changes. Brynn knows that she must always remain strong, stay focused and never give up. Brynn regularly informs people about donation and shares stories about her loved ones and their experiences with donation and transplantation. Brynn assists during Izzie’s Dash for Organ Donation each year by posting flyers, encouraging people to participate and helps during the event and gearing up for the event.
Brynn plans to attend the University of Louisville in the fall of 2014. She hopes to become a member of the University's world-renowned cheerleading team and join a sorority to promote the university and fundraise for various organizations.
At the age of five, Morgan's parents adopted her sister, Emily, a young girl who, for the first three years of her life, suffered from illness and never left the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Eventually, Emily became a candidate and was placed on the waiting list for a four-organ transplant. On October 29, 2004, Emily finally received her transplant at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. Living in Knoxville, Tennessee, the distance from Pittsburgh was difficult on Morgan's family. However, Morgan luckily had the opportunity to visit Emily in Pittsburgh and spend time with her during her recovery. Morgan describes that this entire process made her family stronger and gave them the opportunity to meet other amazing families who continue to keep in touch with and support her family. Morgan attended and watched her sister, Emily, participate in the Transplant Games in Pittsburgh. While visiting for the Transplant Games, Morgan had the privilege of meeting Izzie Christensen and her family. She cherished the opportunity to watch Izzie participate in the 50-yard dash and considered all participants inspirational. Organ donation and transplantation gave Morgan a new sister and changed her life forever.
Morgan plans to attend the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in the fall of 2014. She will pursue a bachelor's degree in Animal Science with a Pre-Veterinary focus. She hopes to eventually become a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.
On October 28, 2010, Emma Rosenthal was only a high school freshman when she suddenly lost her father to a fatal heart attack. She and her mother, left in shock from this tragic event, struggled to understand why Emma’s father was taken from them so suddenly. What Emma came to realize was that this event would inevitably shape her future. After experiencing such a tragic and life shattering event, Emma and her mother had no doubt that they wanted Emma’s father to be a donor. Emma describes that being a part of a donor family not only provided her with a supportive and amazing community, but also allowed them to keep the memory of her father alive. She continues to share her story through speaking on behalf of the Gift of Life Donor Program. Emma received the Joseph Colfer Donor Awareness award, given to youths for their excellence and commitments to donation awareness.
Emma plans to attend Muhlenberg College in the fall and major in media communications and creative writing. She will continue playing field hockey and volunteering with Gift of Life Donor Program. She also hopes to continue volunteering with Safe Harbor, a bereavement program for children, teens and their families to help cope with the death of a loved one. Emma lives her life through the motto, “organ donors are life savers, and life savers are heroes.”