The Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation Announces Winners of the 2010 Andre Sobel Award

Los Angeles – The Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation has announced the winners of the 2010 Andre Sobel Essay Award for survivors of pediatric cancer and other illness.  Now in its ninth year, the Award 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 witty and sometimes searing essays, teens reflect on how illness has changed their relationships, perspectives and their lives.

This year (for the first time) the three placed winners are young ladies.

Emily Ransom, of Burlington, VT, and a student a Boston College is the first place winner. She receives an award of $5,000 for her poem, I had Cancer: Cancer Never Had Me.

Second place winner is Colette Jaycox of Fremont, CA.  Her winning  piece Chai  is a meditation on memory loss during her treatment. She is a freshman at Columbia University.

Arianna Elnes of Omaha, NE, a student at Knox College in Illinois, is the third place winner. Her essay takes the form of a letter to her parents about what they know and what they don’t know about her cancer journey.

Joseph Tong, a student at Richard Montgomery High School in Gaithersburg, MD, is the Honorable Mention winner. Joseph’s experience of writing for the award provided healing to his family as they revisited his childhood illness.

Over 225 teens from across the US submitted entries in response to the prompt:  “Things I Have Needed to Tell You:  My Experience with Illness and How it has Changed Me.”  Winners’ essays will be posted at and in the Impact Section of The Huffington Post over the next month.

Varian Medical Devices is the 2010 Andre Sobel Essay 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 him his memory and his love for literature and writing, his mother created the Andre Sobel Award to reward young people who courageously and eloquently revisit the catastrophic illness they survived. 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 this Award the Andre Sobel Award that winners use this cash award funds in any way they choose to fulfill a cherished dream.

The Sobel family and the ASRL staff congratulate this year’s winners for the extraordinary quality of their writing, and express deeply heartfelt wishes for a healthy and brilliant life.

2010 Award Judges included:  Artist Patience Brewster, Film maker Tatiana von Furstenberger, Childhood Adolescent Psychiarist Dr. Esteban Fuentes and Varian Medical Devices Vice President Spencer Sias. Past judges have included Dr. Deepak Chopra, novelist Lisa See and writer David Bornstein.

The Award is a program of the Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation (ASRL). Now in its tenth year, the Foundation pays urgent expenses so that single parents can stay by the bedsides of their catastrophically ill children.  Since 2000, ASRL has provided over $4M in urgent assistance to 9,300 family members in 22 states.