“Paul Farrell embodies the very spirit of perseverance,” writes Matthew Pflieger, Paul’s coach for both football and baseball at James Hubert Blake High School in Silver Spring, Maryland. Upon reviewing Paul’s application it became clear that Coach Pflieger’s appraisal was spot on. In October of 2013 Paul suffered a spinal cord injury during a kickoff return. Despite the blow to his athletic career, Paul overcame paralysis and immense pain in order to pursue his dreams of coaching and becoming a physical therapist to help other athletes recover from traumatic injuries.
“Something went wrong,” Paul states as he attempted to block an opposing player towards the sideline. “I blacked out.” He came to in unbearable pain and the terror of complete paralysis. Doctors concluded that Paul had a C1-C2 spinal cord contusion. His cerebellum had separated.
Though he was considered lucky just to have survived, Paul was determined to fight his way back onto the football field. Paul admits that at times the pain was so bad that he wanted to just go to sleep so it would subside, but he persevered through grueling therapy and was able to stand in a matter of days. “Never let your struggles consume you,” he advises, “but strengthen your mind, body and soul. I am so blessed to be alive.”
Throughout all he has endured, Paul has maintained a 3.85 GPA, received numerous academic and athletic awards including the Jessie Owens Award and the Minds in Motion Award, been an active participant in Christian groups in school and the community, and coached AAU football. He can no longer play football, but Paul remains active on the sidelines as a coach and enthusiastic teammate. Paul writes that receiving the Kevin Dare Life… Back on Track Scholarship will not only help him to further his goal of becoming a great football coach, but it will help lift a burden from his single mother raising two boys.
Paul will be attending Stevenson University and plans to use the award from the Kevin Dare Foundation to pursue a major in Athletic Training/Physical Therapy. A passionate athlete, coach, and student, we are excited to follow Paul’s journey and proud to award him a Life…Back on Track Scholarship.
Blow after blow has been dealt to Madison Hill, diagnosed with cancer on three separate occasions, but through her hard work and dedication she was able to battle back to be a top student and an active teammate on the Dover Area High School soccer team. “You have no control over the cards that are dealt to you,” Madison wrote in her personal essay, “but you do have a say in all of your choices in how you handle things.”
First diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the age of eight, Madison was considered cured after five years of remission. She placed on her school’s varsity soccer team as a freshman and sophomore before becoming ill at the age of 16. Madison entered septic shock and was hospitalized. She was diagnosed with another form of cancer, secondary myelodyspastic syndrome. A year later, Madison was diagnosed yet again with autoimmune disorder and acute myelogeous leukemia (AML).
Madison required a bone marrow transplant her junior year – her brother became her donor in order to give her a second chance at life. She was unable to leave the hospital her entire junior year but Madison continued to take classes through cyber school to avoid falling behind. “This determination and perseverance will serve her well in college and beyond!” states Dover Biology teacher Jennifer Miller.
Madison has dealt with everything she has faced with courage and determination, and graduated high school with a 4.0 GPA. Additionally, she is a member of the National Honor’s Society and a winner of the Senior of the Month Presidential Award last October, she was active in Student Council, Mini-Thon Committee, Yearbook Committee, a volunteer at Church of the Open Door, and was elected Homecoming Queen. Athletically, Madison was selected as captain of her varsity soccer team, though her diagnoses prevent her from placing as she awaits a second bone marrow transplant. Writes Coach Brett Altimore, “Her positive attitude and competitive spirit is the example that we strive for others to emulate.”
A testament to the growing reach of the Kevin Dare Foundation to help athletes who have undergone immense hardships, Madison first heard about the award from a previous recipient who was also a cancer survivor. As a recipient herself, Madison plans to spread awareness for the foundation to help other student-athletes in need.
Madison has been accepted to Penn State Main Campus but will be attending PSU York to be closer to Hershey Medical Center as she awaits a second bone marrow transplant. There, she plans on majoring in Kinesiology, with the goal to further her education at the post-graduate level to become an occupational therapist. We are proud to award Madison a Life…Back on Track Scholarship to assist her in reaching those goals and wish her all the best in the years to come.
On November 9th, 2014, Jamin Rader went to bed early feeling ill. While laying down, his legs began to spasm in pain – “I got out of bed to get my parents but only made it halfway across my room before my legs stopped working,” Jamin recounts. He was diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis, an autoimmune, inflammatory disease that attacks myelin in the spinal cord. Jamin is now a T-6 paraplegic, his muscular control ending in his upper abdominals.
Jamin’s doctors do not have much information on the disease so far. He’s undergone plasmapheresis, steroids, and chemotherapy but nothing has helped to reverse his paralysis. Of his situation Jamin writes, “I don’t know why this happened to me. I don’t know why I became paralyzed. But ‘why’ doesn’t matter. What matters is moving forward.”
Jamin, a senior at Timberline High School in Olympia, Washington, has not let Transverse Myelitis slow him down. He had been the team captain and top-ranked varsity competitor on Timberline’s track and cross country teams. His first day in the hospital, upon hearing that he would be unable to walk for at least six months, if ever, Jamin emailed his coaches: “Can I compete in a wheelchair?” Three months later he was competing in a racing wheelchair, completing his first timed mile in 11:19. Since then Jamin has brought his mile time down to 6:50 in his wheelchair, and continues to inspire teammates, coaches, and other competitors with his unceasing positive attitude. “In a was, it was a gift,” he says of his paralysis. “Now more than ever, I can inspire others.”
Currently ranked 1st in his class of 400 students with a 4.0 GPA, Jamin has been awarded Timberline’s “Math Star” Award, has been named student of the month eight times, has been named student of the year for multiple AP classes, and has resumed his role as assistant Editor-in-Chief for the school newspaper, “The Blazer.” Jamin is active in the community as a health educator with Amigos de las Americanas and a child care volunteer for CIELO.
Jamin plans to engage in activities to raise awareness for para-athletics. He also hopes to help make a push for a track meet in the name of Kevin Dare in the Seattle area to expand the foundation’s circle of influence – a proactive approach to life noted by his training director at Amigos de las Americanas, Vivian Lyons, who writes, “Jamin was always quick to volunteer to lead activities, passionate about learning, and endlessly optimistic.”
A quote he took to heart during his stay at the University of Washington Medical Center is, “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for extraordinary destinies.” The Kevin Dare Foundation is proud to support Jamin in his own endeavors as he prepares to study atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington with a Life…Back on Track Scholarship. We are excited to follow his progress and wish Jamin continued success.