The Arthritis Foundation's Greater Southwest Chapter recently announced that Tucson, Arizona resident and University of Arizona law student, Molly Pettry is the first recipient of the Winterhoff Scholarship, a collegiate scholarship for undergraduate and graduate students with rheumatic diseases. Molly will receive $7,500 per year, for up to three years from the educational endowment. Growing up in Tucson since she was six years old, Molly graduated high school in 2003 from Sabino High School, and received her Bachelor Degree in 2008 from the University of Arizona with a double major of Spanish Literature and Philosophy.
Diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) when she was 14 months old, 25 year old Molly has literally grown up with the disease and endured a total of 11 rheumatoid related surgeries. "During the spring semester of my senior year as an undergraduate, I had two surgeries one week apart; one to replace my right hip and then I had surgery on my foot," said Molly, "I kept up with my studies from the hospital and returned to classes in a wheelchair for a few weeks." Molly has never been one to give up or give in; she has determination and a focus that drives her to succeed even with the pain and the physical limitations she experiences every day.
The Arthritis Foundation has served as a support system for Molly and her family; they not only got involved with the JRA programs including camp when Molly was younger, but they were also advocates of JRA awareness in Washington D.C. during a march at the Capitol. Molly has a love for the outdoors and admits that there is much she would love to do but can not because of JRA. "It has taken me a lifetime to figure out what my limitations are, and at times I still do not know," comments Molly, "Instead of dwelling on my limitations, I find and invest my energy into the things that I can do." Molly went to Zion National Park a couple of summers ago and found it breathtaking and beautiful even from the lower elevations, "From my point of view the world was beautiful and the unattainable trails could not add any more to that beauty," states Molly. Molly will graduate in May of 2011 and has aspirations of practicing disability law.
"I will be working full-time this summer for the Arizona Center for Disability Law," says Molly "more than anything, I am excited to have a career where I can rely on my mind and not my body."
The endowment was established in 2007 when the Arthritis Foundation received a $1.3 million gift from estate of the late Dr. and Mrs. Walter Winterhoff. This gift allowed the organization to create its first collegiate educational endowment for students with rheumatic diseases. "This program was a collaborative effort between our institution and the Greater Southwest Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation," comments John Nametz, Director of Student Financial Aid at University of Arizona, "we are handling the selection of the candidate, the foundation is involved in updating and reviewing the selection process."
Vikki Scarafiotti, the President and CEO of the Greater Southwest Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation, and Winterhoff Task Force Chair Stuart Meislik worked on launching the scholarship program with the university staff. "A special thank you to John Nametz, and Carol Funckes, Associate Director, Curricular Access and Faculty Support at the Disability Resources Center at UofA for helping our organization have an immediate impact on the lives of collegiate students with rheumatic diseases," said Vikki Scarafiotti, "we look forward to helping many more students in the years to come!"
About the Winterhoff Scholarship -A $1.3 million gift received in 2007 by The Arthritis Foundation from the estate of the late Dr. and Mrs. Walter Winterhoff created the chapter's first educational endowment for students with rheumatic diseases. Walter and Kay Winterhoff were Tucson residents and had passion for the work of the Arthritis Foundation. This passion evolved because Kay had arthritis, and refused to let it get in the way of her love for golf and tennis. The scholarship commences fall 2010 at the three public universities in Arizona - Arizona State University, University of Arizona, and Northern Arizona University, and is renewable up to three consecutive years. Winners receive $7,500 per year, and are either full-time undergraduates or graduate students that maintain a minimum of a 2.5 cumulative grade point average. Each university will add one student per year until four students have been awarded the scholarship at each of the three schools. For more information about the scholarship go to www.arthritis.org (Search: Winterhoff Collegiate Scholarship)
About the Arthritis Foundation -The Arthritis Foundation's Greater Southwest Chapter provides services for 1.5 million men, women, and children in Arizona, New Mexico, and El Paso, Texas who are affected by arthritis. The Arthritis Foundation is the only nationwide, nonprofit health organization helping people take greater control of arthritis by leading efforts to prevent, control, and cure arthritis and related diseases. For more free information about the Arthritis Foundation visit www.arthritis.org or call 602.264.7679.