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Celebrating 16 Firelands Positive People

Caitlin Nearhood • May 16, 2014 at 12:20 AM

Tara Whaley didn’t know when the abuse would end. The Sandusky High School senior and her siblings experienced verbal abuse their entire lives from their father. It seemed perpetual. “I felt like I couldn’t get away from it,” Whaley said. The abuse continued until December 2013, when her father passed away.

While she suffered unnecessary abuse, Whaley credits her dad for gaining independence, as the emotional abuse was motivation to lead a more positive outlook on life and to “never give up.”

See more photos from the event HERE

“I am the ultimate survivor,” she said. “You can accomplish anything as long as you set your mind to it”

Like Whaley, 15 other high school seniors told similar disheartening stories about divorce, death, battles with medical issues, and abuse. But they did not dwell on the negative aspect of their struggles — they instead focused on how they overcame them.

The Firelands Positive People awarded scholarships to all 16 finalists at the 19th annual program at the Kalahari Resorts’ Nia Center because they “have successfully overcame challenges in their lives with a positive outlook,” the organization stated in a release.

Bob Eirons, president of the Firelands Positive People board, made it clear there is a need to help teens going through tough times, which led the board to grant the largest amount of scholarships this year.

Whaley will receive $4,000 over the next two years, which will go toward her college education. She plans to attend Ohio University to study nursing and become a pediatrician one day.

Her “no quit” attitude will not sway anytime soon.

“I won’t give up if things get hard in college” she said.

BGSU Firelands also presented Lucy LaRose, of St. Mary Central Catholic High School, with an additional $500 while Terra State Community College also gave Christopher Akins, of Monroeville High School, and Jonathan Emmons, of Port Clintion High School, $500 apiece.

Audience members were treated to special music by Norwalk High School finalist Adrian Go, who serenaded visitors with the sound of a professional concert violinist a few minutes before the program began.

In his scholarship application, Go inspired people to “search for the silver lining”

Firelands Positive People, founded in 1994, provided $13,000 as a result of community member donations.

2014 Firelands Positive People awards

•Tara Whaley, Sandusky High School: $4,000

•Jasmine Debske, Margaretta High School: $3,000

•Bradley Wind, Vermillion High School: $2,000

•Lucy LaRose, St. Mary’s Central Catholic High School: $1,000, $500

•Caitlynn Thompson, Danbury High School: $500

•Tyler Coble, Edison High School: $500

•Alexandria Wilgrube, EHOVE Career Center: $500

•Rose Walther, Firelands High School: $500

•Megan McCarthy, Huron High School: $500

•Christopher Akins, Monroeville High School: $500, $500

•Adrian Go, Norwalk High School: $500

•Ruthann Silvis, Perkins High School: $500

•Jonathon Emmons, Port Clinton High School: $500, $500

•Kristen Moore, St. Paul High School: $500

•Kathleen Smith, South Central High School: $500

•Kent Skrada, Western Reserve High School: $500

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