Friday, April 1, 2016

2016 My Life as 3D Scholarship Essay Contest

(Note: A version of this blog post also appears on The Huffington Post's blog site as "A Scholarship Essay Contest for College Students Affected by a Sibling's Addiction.")

Welcome to the official announcement of the 2nd annual(?) My Life as 3D Scholarship Essay Contest.

I wasn't sure this contest would happen again this year, and yet here we are. Sure, last year's version was a big success, with 30 kids submitting essays and 2 kids walking away with scholarships totaling $1,750.00. But finances have been tight in my family for a while now--not having a full-time job for more than two years will do that--so putting up money to seed another scholarship fund this year was kind of iffy. In the end, though, as I wrote back in October, my wife Kathy and I decided to go ahead and do it. Because siblings matter.

Our goal this year was to meet or exceed the monetary value of the scholarships we awarded the first time around, and I'm super happy to say that we did that. My wife and I put up $500.00 of our own money and some very generous people kicked in another another $1,550.00 via our YouCaring campaign. The end result?

This year we'll be awarding a $1,500.00 scholarship to the contest winner and a $550.00 scholarship to the runner-up.

Here are the key dates you need to know about this year's contest:
  • Deadline for essays/entries: 7/1/16
  • Judging deadline for essays: 7/31/16
  • Winner notified/announced: Week of 8/1/16

The topic for the essay contest is:

“How has your sibling’s addiction impacted you and what are your dreams for your future?”

Last year's contest produced some amazing essays, a few of which marked the first time the author had ever written about the effect their sibling's addiction has had on them. I have to say, that was one of the most satisfying things about the whole experience: Giving young people a chance to tell their stories and shifting the focus off of their addicted sibling for just a little bit. Writing can be so cathartic, so maybe we helped some young people find some relief even if they didn't win any money.

This year's contest will be judged by a group of people who know a thing or two about addiction and writing. In addition to myself and my wife, these fine folks will be judging the essay submissions:

Jeff Jay
Jeff is a clinical interventionist, educator, and author who has been in recovery from addiction since October of 1981. He and his wife Debra run Love First, a private practice that provides interventions, recovery mentoring, and professional training. A former clinician with the Hazelden Foundation and Sacred Heart Rehabilitation Center, Jeff co-authored the best-selling book Love First: A Family’s Guide to Intervention with his wife. His latest book is Navigating Grace: A Solo Voyage of Survival and Redemption.

Jeanne Keister
Jeanne and her husband Don lost their son Tyler to addiction on December 23, 2012. Since then, they have worked wonders to help break the stigma associated with addiction and evoke legislative changes through their organization atTAcK addiction. Their goal? To help young people realize the dangers of alcohol and drugs so that they and their families never have to experience the pain, tragedy, and loneliness that accompany addiction.

Hannah Miller
Hannah is an incredible young person in recovery who has committed her life to helping others struggling with addiction. She shared her story, "Nine Lives," with Heroes in Recovery back in December of 2014. A recent graduate of the University of Michigan's Master of Social Work program, Hannah is a therapist at Dawn Farm, an addiction treatment center in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Munchie Morgan
Munchie is a fabulous writer who lost her younger sister to an addiction-related suicide just over two years ago. She has shared her story on the Heroes in Recovery site, too. You can read it here: "My Sister Sarah." Munchie started the Facebook group "Someone Else's Sarah" to help bring awareness to addiction and suicide. She also writes a blog for a treatment facility.

Anne Slease
Anne has been a teacher for more than 20 years and became a mental health advocate and author after witnessing firsthand the rippling effects of mental illness and addiction in her home. Her older son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 18, but he denied it, self-medicating with alcohol and drugs instead. Ultimately, he was incarcerated and spent almost 3 years behind bars. Anne has written a novel, A Brother's Oath, a fictionalized account of the devastation her younger son faced while watching his older brother's mental health and behavior deteriorate. She also writes a blog called "Still Hopeful Mom."

Cathy Taughinbaugh
A Certified Parent Coach, Cathy has been working with parents since 2010. After discovering drug and alcohol use was an issue with her children, she found that connecting with others was a way to share tools and strategies that could help parents lessen the pain of their child’s substance use. Through personal coaching, articles, a support group, resources, and various ebooks, Cathy's goal is to offer inspiration to others facing the same or similar challenges in their lives. You can visit her website at: 

(Actress Kristen Johnston, author of the brutally honest and funny addiction memoir Guts: The Endless Follies and Tiny Triumphs of a Giant Disaster, was a judge last year, but isn't sure if her schedule will allow her to participate this time. She's asked me to contact her closer to the judging period to see what her availability is. I'm really hoping she'll be able to do it.)

So there you have it.

If you know a college student who has been impacted by their sibling's addiction, and they are attending college in the fall, please share this blog with them. Maybe they'll be interested in taking a shot at this scholarship contest. All the information they need to apply/enter--requirements, rules, deadlines, etc.--should be contained in the documents below.

NOTE: These links are to Google Docs.

2016 My Life as 3D Scholarship Essay Contest: Rules

2016 My Life as 3D Scholarship Essay Contest: Application/Entry Form

If you have any questions about the scholarship, or if you have any problems with the documents, please contact me at:

I can't wait to give away some money in August. And who knows? Maybe we'll do it again next year, too.

Peace. And good luck. And remember...



"You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories." --Anne Lamott

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