Izzie’s Gift of Hope Foundation Scholarship Winners
Casana Fink (Ocala, Florida)
When her father was diagnosed with liver failure, Casana registered for the Miss America Outstanding Teen Scholarship Pageant as a chance to earn a scholarship and ease her family’s financial burden. Since winning three pageant titles, Casana started her own non-profit organization, “Give to Live, Donate Life,” to promote organ donation. She also volunteers for the Ronald McDonald House charities and serves as an ambassador and spokesperson for Donate Life Florida and LifeQuest Organ Recovery. Casana plans to attend the University of Florida, where she will double major in dance and telecommunications.
Lance Frye (North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania)
Born with cyanotic congenital heart disease, Lance has always put his heart into helping others. He serves as a coach for an adaptive baseball league, mentors as a counselor for The Dr. Bill Neches Heart Camp for Kids and serves as an ambassador for the American Heart Association, which has named him a two-time Heart Hero. Lance’s early years were beset by health complications before he received a heart transplant in 2014. He has since graduated from Norwin High School and participated in raising more than $500,000 for organ donation awareness. Lance plans to attend Westmoreland County Community College.
Connor Grimes (West Chester, Ohio)
Connor was diagnosed with biliary atresia, a rare liver disease, when he was four weeks old. His parents were tested for living donation after two years on the transplant waiting list, and Connor’s mother was able to donate 40 percent of her liver to her son. After his transplant, Connor and his mother spread the importance of organ donation to high school students by traveling to local schools. He has also volunteered for the Life Center Organ Donor Network, which assists to coordinate organ donation in multiple states. Currently studying music therapy at Ohio University, Connor hopes to help young hospital patients see hope through the gift of music.
Matthew Hanna (Gibsonia, Pennsylvania)
Matthew’s father unexpectedly passed away in 2009 and saved the lives of three others through organ donation. For his Eagle Scout project, Matthew organized the Bill Hanna Memorial Golf Outing in honor of his dad. The event registered new donors and raised more than $15,000 for CORE to promote organ donation. Matthew currently studies civil engineering at the University of Pittsburgh.
Amber Hooker (Italy, Texas)
Amber thanks organ donation for saving the lives of her mother, aunt and cousin. Through social media, word of mouth and fliers promoting the NHS Organ Donor Register, Amber is a proud advocate for organ donation. She has also dedicated many hours to community service with the Women’s Auxiliary to the Dallas Fire Fighters Association. Amber plans to attend Texas Woman’s University and pursue a nursing degree to become a nurse anesthetist.
Alysa Lovich (Butler, Pennsylvania)
During her freshman year of college, Alysa’s four-year-old cousin Colbee passed away after a tragic accident. After his death, his parents registered him as an organ donor and donated his organs to save the lives of four people. Now registered as an organ donor herself, Alysa volunteers for “Colbee’s Benefit Ride” to raise money for Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and helped with this year’s Relay for Life through the Kent State Interior Design Student Collaborative. In 2015, she served as a student success leader at Kent State University, where she is studying architecture.
Elizabeth Zirkle (Belington, West Virginia)
Elizabeth was affected by organ donation when her aunt served as a living kidney donor to her uncle and again when her close friend Taitlyn passed away and saved the lives of four people through organ donation. In addition to volunteering for CORE, Elizabeth started “Taitlyn’s H.E.A.R.T.,” a platform that educates people about organ donation. Elizabeth plans to attend West Virginia Wesleyan College, where she will major in special education with a focus on autism and minor in dance