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Make-A-Wish Foundation Scholarship Program

In 2011, Pirates Charities partnered once again with the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Pennsylvania and Southern West Virginia to support the organization's annual "Kurt R. Weiss Scholarship for Wish Children" program.

The Kurt R. Weiss Scholarship for Wish Children was created in 1998 in honor of Kurt Weiss, a wish kid who overcame bone cancer and went on to attend Notre Dame University and Jefferson Medical College and study at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, NIH and UPMC. Inspired by his story of recovery, determination and generosity to other wish kids, executives at CoGo's established the scholarship fund to help motivate other wish children to pursue their post-high school educational ambitions.

Beyond the primary goal of helping wish children pursue higher education, the scholarship program was established to help counter the myth that the children helped by the Make-A-Wish Foundation are all terminal. The Make-A-Wish Foundation grants wishes for children living with life-threatening medical conditions and many pinpoint their involvement with the Foundation as a turning point in their recovery.

More than 80% of all children helped by the Make-A-Wish Foundation are alive today. The Kurt R. Weiss Scholarship program helps to spotlight these young people - years after their diagnosis and wish - and show them as young adults who are moving on with their lives and pursuing 'normal' activities such as graduation, college and beyond.

Pirates Charities became a sponsor of the Kurt R. Weiss Scholarship effort in 2010 and continued this support in 2011. In addition to financial support, Pirates Charities hosted a group of scholarship recipients and their families and friends to a night at the ballpark on Friday, May 6. Before the game, the group of 140 gathered gathered in the Trib Total Media Hall of Fame Club to recognize the accomplishments of the 25 scholarship recipients. Attendees also enjoyed a ballpark buffet on the Deck at PNC Park. Then, the scholarship recipients who attended the event proceeded to the field where they were recognized for their accomplishments by Team President Frank Coonelly. Make-A-Wish President/CEO Judi Stone and Development Coordinator Brittany Youngman also joined the group on the field.

There were a total of 52 Weiss Scholarship recipients in 2011.

The Weiss Scholarship recipients recognized at PNC Park in 2011 were:

Scholarship Recipient Colleges Accepted at/Attending
Rebecca Meyer Edinboro University
Claire Merti Millersville University
Andrew Gula Duquesne University
Emile Greer Yale University
Rebecca Osterwise St. Vincent's College, Allegheny College or University of Dayton
Allison Schmitt West Chester University
Sarah Parfitt Edinboro University
Kali Peroni Washington and Jefferson College
Alyssa Belsterling University of Pittsburgh
Sarah Blahovec American University
Rebecca Tomson Westminster College or Slippery Rock University
Phillipp Wolff Shippensburg University
William Hines Slippery Rock University
Perry Jarrell West Virginia University
Sarah Slater Houghton College, Gordon College or University of Pittsburgh
Nicholas Halapchuk Edinboro University
Sarah Roknick Edinboro University
Andrew McCallion Pittsburgh Technical Institute
Andrew Renda St. Vincent's College
Brittani Rizzo Point Park University
Jessica Wilson Pennsylvania Institute of Health and Technology

Other financial supporters of the Kurt R. Weiss Scholarship for Wish Kids are the Department of Musculoskeletal Oncology at Mt. Sinai Hospital, Peters Township National Honor Society and Student Council, and Plum Boro School District, as well as many individuals.

As a follow-up on Kurt Weiss, in 2009 he completed his residency in Orthopaedic Surgery and then served as a Fellow in Musculoskeletal Oncology at the University of Toronto. On August 1, 2010, Kurt began his new position as Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at UPMC. He operated at UPMC Shadyside and Children's Hospital, specializing in the research and treatment of cancer in and around the skeleton. His wish to play with the Notre Dame Marching Band at the Orange Bowl was granted in 1989. He is married and has two children.

For more information about the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Pennsylvania and Southern West Virginia, please visit their website at www.wishgreaterpa.org.