Ride to Meet the Challenge Scholarship Winners

In the picture are the Ride for Bikes Board members; Michelle Madrid, Blair Porter, Bri Padilla, Robby Gaines & Jessica Caballero. Not Pictured is Don Greetan.  The two scholarship winners are Brandon Reza and Natalie Anne Wallace.
In the picture are the Ride for Bikes Board members; Michelle Madrid, Blair Porter, Bri Padilla, Robby Gaines & Jessica Caballero. Not Pictured is Don Greetan.  The two scholarship winners are Brandon Reza and Natalie Anne Wallace.

In addition to the $8,000 scholarship each student receives a very nice, new bicycle.

 In 2013 the charity Ride for Bikes started a scholarship program.  Ride for Bikes realized that there was a group of students that were often missed by the traditional scholarship programs. These students were those who had had a challenge in growing up. And because of these challenges they often had to work to support the family and were unable to participate in sports or studies.  Some of these students had a medical problem that affected their school life and because of these challenges they were overlooked for traditional scholarships.

 So Ride for Bikes established the Ride to Meet the Challenge scholarship program. Currently there are four students that have received the $8,000 scholarship. The scholarship can be used for college, trade school or specialty school. It is designed to help the student attain their dream regardless of what it is.

 To qualify for the scholarship the student must write an essay describing the challenge they had to overcome in their lives, how they overcame it and what their future plans are. There were forty applications in 2016. The board had to pick one which we were not able to do. So we chose two. Each student gets an $8,000 scholarship that they can use for college, trade school or specialty school.

 Here is a brief description of the challenges these two young people faced.

Brandon Brandon was diagnosed with cancer at young age of two. His parents were told that they did not expect him to live more than a few months. The military soon deployed his father to the Middle East so his mother took care of him, alone. He spent the next few years of his life in the hospital undergoing treatment after treatment along with numerous surgeries to try and stop the spread of the cancer. He could only go home a few days a month.   At first there was little hope he would live. So at a tender, young age he learned about death. But after several years of treatments he was declared cancer free and finally able to go home to stay.   Brandon survived and pulled through and today he is a healthy young man who played for two Artesia State Championship Football teams. 

NatalieNatalie was born with a severely deformed right arm. It was tucked under her arm pit in a “chicken wing” position. There were very few nerves that functioned and she of course had no use of that arm. At six months old she underwent the first of 22 surgeries. Children were very cruel to her as she grew up. When she was 12 the doctors decided that she was finally old enough that they could operate to remedy the situation.   

They broke her arm in seven places and installed screws which were attached to a metal cage and every night these screws were tightened in an attempt to lengthen and straighten her bones.  The pain was excruciating. She spent five months in the hospital undergoing this treatment.  She finally was able to leave and go back to school where she arrived wearing the scary looking cage with rods and screws going through and attached to her arm. Her looks frightened the other children and they called her “cyborg”.   At a time when little girls are growing into women, Natalie had to wear a sack dress to fit over the cage.  She hated everything about her situation but knew it would eventually get better.  Today Natalie is a beautiful young woman, top student and an Artesia high school cheerleader.

 Both of these students fully represent what the Ride to Meet the Challenge scholarship is about. Both had to overcome tremendous hardship and emotional and physical pain. But they did not feel sorry for themselves nor did they quit. We want to celebrate and award that tenacity. When the scholarship was conceived the plan was for us to help these students. Little did we realize how much these students would inspire us. They are truly amazing.

 Donations can be made to the Ride to Meet the Challenge scholarship through the Ride for Bikes website, www.rideforbikes.com.