2012-13 Andre Sobel Award Winners Announced

The Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation 

Announces the Winners of the 

2012-13 Andre Sobel Award 

for Teen Survivors of Cancer and Catastrophic Illness 

Los Angeles – The Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation has announced the winners of the 2012-13 Andre Sobel Award for survivors of pediatric illness.  Now in its tenth year, the Andre Sobel Award in a national writing contest that invites teens who have survived catastrophic illness — and the accompanying isolation from peers — to share their stories so that friends, family and other patients may learn from their experiences.  In highly personal, wise, humorous and sometimes searing essays, teens reflect on how illness has changed their relationships and their lives.

First prize winner is John Kolton Smith, 18, of Waxahachie, TX.  His winning essay, “What I Needed from Others When I Was Sick: Notes from Someone who has Been There” takes the format of a blog to chronicle how cancer changed his outlook on life and influenced his drive to become a pediatric oncologist.  He will use his $5,000 prize money to fund a mission to Guatemala and pay college expenses.  His winning essay is posted at  www.andreriveroflife.org.

Kolton says, “I am beyond thankful that I was given the opportunity to share my story.  I can only hope that my words will touch the hearts of the people who read it and provide them with a sense of hope, knowing that they aren’t alone.”

Second prize winner is Nolan Weber of Jackson, MO; Third Place is shared between Emma Rose Paulson of Mequon, WI and Katherine Arnold of Franklin, TN.  Honorable mentions are awarded to:  Sophie Brannen of Burlington, WI, Catherine Terrell of Batesville, AR, and the writing team of Ryan Campbell and his grandmother Judy Granado of Rowlett, TX.

Varian Medical Devices is now in its third year as the Andre Sobel Award Sponsor.

The Andre Sobel Award is named for the teenage son of Valerie and Erwin Sobel who lost his life to a brain tumor at the age of 19. To honor his memory and his love for literature and writing, his mother created the Andre Sobel Award to reward young people who are survivors of catastrophic illness.  The Award solicits voices of young survivors and provides catharsis through the process of writing about a life-altering time.  While Andre Sobel was not able to pursue his plans for college and beyond, it is the intention of the Andre Sobel Award that winners use their award funds in any way they choose to fulfill a cherished dream.

The Andre Sobel Award is a program of the Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation (ASRL.) Now in its thirteenth year, the foundation pays urgent expenses – such as rent, mortgages, utilities and transportation — so that single parents can stay by the bedsides of their catastrophically ill children.  Since 2000, ASRL has provided $4M in urgent assistance to 9,300 family members in 22 states.  Visit: www.andreriveroflife.com