Jackson Heller of Lafayette has won the Jessica Beth Schwartz Memorial Scholarship, one of three organ transplant recipients of these higher education scholarships for 2020-21.
The scholarship is funded through the Transplant Foundation, the charitable foundation that supports the mission of Gift of Life Donor Program. Each year, the scholarship program issues $2,500 awards to transplant recipients seeking higher education. The scholarship was created in memory of heart transplant recipient Jessica Beth Schwartz.
At just two years old, Jackson was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia, and his chance of survival was “slim to none.” In February 2004, he received a liver transplant. Now, 15 years later, Jackson lives his life like a normal teenager, spending time with friends and serving as soccer captain. He has made it his mission to educate his classmates and teammates on the importance of registering as an organ donor.
“I pledge everyday that I let people know about my story so that in the future, unfortunate kids such as myself will receive the same blessing and miracle that I did 15 years ago,” Jackson said.
Jackson plans on attending West Virginia University this fall.
About the scholarship fund
Just a few days after she was born, Jessica Beth Schwartz was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect. Her heart and body began to slow down by the age of 14. But thanks to someone who said yes to organ donation, Jessica was able to experience eight and a half additional years of life.
“Each year I am inspired by the challenging journey these young men and women have experienced at such a young age,” says Jessie’s mother and scholarship co-founder, Janice Schwartz-Donahue. “I am grateful to have the opportunity to continue to honor my daughter’s legacy by helping these students pursue higher education.”
A total of 65 students have been awarded scholarships since the fund was created in 2003 in her honor.
To be eligible for the Jessica Beth Schwartz Memorial Scholarship, students must be an organ or tissue transplant recipient under the age of 25, seniors in high school, or be enrolled in a two or four-year college, university, trade or technical school.
To contribute to the Jessica Beth Schwartz Memorial Scholarship Fund, or for more information on scholarship criteria, visit jessiesday.org.
“I pledge everyday that I let people know about my story so that in the future, unfortunate kids such as myself will receive the same blessing and miracle that I did 15 years ago.” --Jackson Heller