On January 15, 2015 over 400 community and business leaders attended the 15th Annual Beat the Odds scholarship fundraising event at the Rochester International Event Center. Attendees were treated to an exquisite dinner that started with a social hour including opportunities to bid on silent auction gifts and purchase raffle tickets.
Four amazing students from the Rochester and surrounding areas were recognized with a $2,500 scholarship. These high school seniors struggled in difficult situations but stayed on track to graduate from high school with plans for college in the fall. In addition to the Beat the Odds scholarship winners, the Foundation awarded additional scholarships to other deserving students who were runners-up. Many thanks to the nominators, event sponsors, and attendees on an amazing evening!
Whitney was placed in foster care at 13, where she lived in three different homes the first year before finding a more permanent one. She fought to maintain a relationship with her siblings against her biological mother’s wishes. Through all of these difficulties, she has been able to hold a job while maintaining a 3.7 GPA. She created strong relationships with friends and teachers at school and was not afraid to ask for help from teachers, friends and her foster parents when struggling with a subject. Whitney also has found time to volunteer as a student assistant, helping grade tests, quizzes and homework assignments. Her foster parents have been great parental influences in her life. She states, “It’s amazing how many great people have taken me in and been a huge support system for me when I grew up having no one to guide me.” To quote Whitney, “I have learned that if you are working toward the things you believe in, you are more likely to succeed. I have always believed I can succeed in what I believe in, but having people around to support me has showed me that you do not have to do everything on your own.”
“Being in foster care and meeting all these great families who are still helping me to this day has taught me that family isn't just blood, family is anyone who would do anything to protect and show you they love you.” – Whitney Bekaert
Doris learned at an early age that she was blind and deaf on her right side. This caused difficulties in her paying attention and her speech. After the diagnosis, she received a hearing aid and was allowed to sit in the front of her classes at school. In grade school this was not such an issue, but as she got older and had to attend special education classes, dealing with her disabilities became harder. She had to overcome problems with math and reading comprehension, but thanks to hard work, and teachers taking the time to help her, she is now able to push herself successfully in subjects that were her hardest. She realized that she could not change what was wrong with her but that she did have a choice to push herself to become successful. But what most of her friends and teachers did not know is that she was dealing with something far worse that her deafness and blindness, something that she could not control or change. She would come home after school to a father who was physically and verbally abusing his family. After one particularly violent attack, her mother found the strength to take her children and leave. Doris learned from her mother that no matter what happens in life or how long it takes, we can make it through and have the choice to succeed in life.In Doris’s words, “I know this essay is supposed to be about me, but my mother is part of my life and without her I would not be here now writing this paper. I believe I deserve this scholarship, because no matter what life has given to me, I still believe that I will make it through no matter what or how long it takes.
“To win this scholarship will mean a lot ot me, but it will mean a lot more to make my mom proud." – Doris Conde
Rebecca was born with a birth defect that was initially diagnosed as autism. The initial speech pathologist doubted she would ever speak, read, or write and would need assistance for life. Her parents didn’t accept that diagnosis for her and got a second opinion. At the University of Iowa Hospital, she was diagnosed with severe verbal and motor apraxia. This condition causes children to have trouble moving and coordinating the different parts of their mouths to form words. After hundreds of hours of speech and occupational therapy, she slowly made strides in speaking and began to read and write. With the help of her parents, therapists, doctors, and teachers, she learned that it isn’t about the struggles that we face, it is about how we overcome our struggles. She learned to overcome her speaking restrictions and not let them hold her back. She also learned to communicate with people, opening up new life experiences for her.
“My speaking disability has taught me perseverance. I have beat the odds, and taught myself and others that hard work and determination help you.” – Rebecca Houston
Abigail is a young woman who has truly "Beat the Odds." She was born to a mother with multiple sclerosis, so at an early age she learned to be independent. This taught her to be accepting of differences and not to judge people by first impressions. She also learned that everyone has troubles and off days, but that doesn’t define who they are inside and you should always be there to lend a hand when they’re in need. Her, as she describes, “steady middle class” home was disrupted when her father lost his business due to bankruptcy. Her father struggled with substance abuse, which left Abigail even more independent. This taught her to work for want she wanted, sometimes tirelessly, until she achieved her goals.
“While I sometimes wish I had been dealt a different hand in life, I know that where I am is exactly where I'm supposed to be, and the only way to go is forward and to help others in situations that resemble my own and show that anyone can beat the odds.” – Abigail Olson
Contributions to Beat the Odds are made through monetary donations or by purchasing table sponsorships or tickets to the Beat the Odds event held in January. Individual tickets are priced at $100 and table sponsorship levels range from $600-$5,000. We also welcome in-kind donations that can be raffled or auctioned at the event. If you are interested in supporting Beat the Odds, please contact the RCTC Foundation at (507) 281-7771 or download the Sponsorship Form and return it to the RCTC Foundation at 851 30th Avenue SE, Rochester, MN 55904.