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Tri4Grace Scholarship recipients share their stories

Gustavus Adolphus College students are shown at the 2017 Tri4Grace Memorial Triathlon and Duathlon. From left are: (back) Maddie Aberg, Nicole Lohman, Jenna Muntifering, (front) Sofie Panetti, and Claire Goblirsch. Photo courtesy of Sue Goblirsch.

The Tri4Grace Memorial Triathlon began as a way to support Grace Goblirsch and her family, as she battled leukemia.

She died of leukemia in 2013, but the triathlon has lived on in her memory. Instead of raising money for medical expenses, the race now funds scholarships for graduating River Falls High School seniors who have been directly affected by cancer.

"We are very proud of the recipients and all they have achieved," said Sue Goblirsch, Grace's mom. "We are honored to be a part of their journey on their road to success."

Three recipients are chosen each year by a scholarship selection committee comprised of Mike Miller and Connie Foster. Each recipient receives a $1,000 scholarship.

"It is bittersweet handing out the scholarships," said Sue. "It is rewarding to give these students scholarships and meet them after the ceremony. They have been very appreciative and kind. It is also sad because it is a poignant reminder that Grace is no longer here with us."

Past recipients took some time to answer a few questions and share a bit of their stories.

Luke EmersonLuke Emerson

What year did you receive the Tri4Grace Scholarship?

I received the Tri4Grace Scholarship my senior year of high school, in 2015.

Why did you decide to apply?

I decided to apply to the scholarship because I felt a personal connection to it, as my father died of a glioblastoma brain tumor in 2007, when I was 9 years old.

What did you think when you found out you'd won?

I was honored that I had been chosen to receive the scholarship, and felt a lot of respect for the family of Grace Goblirsch for making the decision to take a tragedy and help other kids further their education.

What does it mean to you to receive this scholarship?

This scholarship meant a lot to me, and was reassuring to me in that I had support from my community to further my education.

What school are you attending, and what is your area of study?

I am a junior Social Work and Spanish major attending Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.

What would you like to do with your degree?

I am still deciding exactly what I would like to do within the seemingly infinite options in the field of social work.

 Kinsey RuemmeleKinsey Ruemmele

What year did you receive the Tri4Grace Scholarship?

Spring 2017

Why did you decide to apply?

I applied because I have been directly impacted by cancer. My mother was diagnosed with Lymphoma my junior year of high school.

What did you think when you found out you'd won?

I was very grateful to have received this scholarship to go toward my education at the University of Minnesota.

What does it mean to you to receive this scholarship?

I was incredibly grateful and thought it was a generous offer for those who have been directly impacted by cancer.

What school are you attending?

University of Minnesota -Twin Cities

What year are you there?

Freshman (first year)

What is your major/area of study?

Actuarial Science

What would you like to do with your degree?

I'd like to work in finance.

Neil LennemanNeil Lenneman

What year did you receive the Tri4Grace Scholarship?

2016

Why did you decide to apply?

I thought it would be a great opportunity to not only help pay for my college education, but also to spread more awareness about this issue.

What did you think when you found out you'd won?

I felt honored that my story had an influence on those who were able to read it and I was very proud of the accomplishment.

What does it mean to you to receive this scholarship?

It meant a lot to me because it meant that my story had been noticed and that I was connected to different parts of the community through a common issue.

What school are you attending?

University of Wisconsin- La Crosse

What year are you there?

Sophomore

What is your major/area of study?

Finance

What would you like to do with your degree?

Become an accredited investor hopefully on Wall Street one day.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

I just want to say thank you again to the Goblirsch family and to the community for all the support that they provided to my family and others.

Olivia TeppOlivia Tepp

What year did you receive the Tri4Grace Scholarship?

I received it in May 2017

Why did you decide to apply?

I really like writing and I felt like I had something to say about the topics that the scholarship was for. And I felt like it was a topic that had something that had really impacted me ... it almost inspired me to use what I had gone through in a way to help me further my education.

(In the application essay) I talked about how cancer can affect so many families, but the way that you deal with it can be either positive or negative. And my stepdad got cancer and I wanted to say that although that could have affected our family in a negative way, I chose to look at it more positively and as grow as family.

What did you think when you found out you'd won?

I was kind of surprised but I was very excited. And I felt like it was really good way to reflect on what I had gone through. And I was happy that I could use it in a positive way.

What does it mean to you to receive this scholarship?

I'd say it's kind of a resource that has helped me to like always remember where I came from and my morals and what I had gone through. I feel like it not only helped me financially but it also helped me look at it differently like writing the essay really made me think about thinking differently and i began to focus on not just winning the scholarship but having an input on what i had to say.

What school are you attending?

Iowa State University

What year are you there?

Freshman

What is your major/area of study?

Psychology

What would you like to do with your degree?

I just want to help others and be there for others. And find a way to impact society in a positive way.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

I'm very thankful for the scholarship.

Mason LinehanMason Linehan

What year did you receive the Tri4Grace Scholarship?

I received the scholarship my senior year of high school (2017).

Why did you decide to apply?

I applied for the scholarship because my mom was battling cancer at the time.

What did you think when you found out you'd won?

I was so excited that my writing along with my story was worth the $1,000 scholarship.

What does it mean to you to receive this scholarship?

It means the world to me; this scholarship was something very special to win.

What school are you attending?

I am attending UW-Parkside and playing soccer for their Division 2 team.

What year are you there?

I am a freshman.

What is your major/area of study?

Major is business marketing

Elena GlynnElena Glynn

What year did you receive the Tri4Grace Scholarship?

I received the Tri4Grace Scholarship my senior year of high school, so in 2016.

Why did you decide to apply?

I decided to apply for this scholarship because I knew quite a few people who knew Grace well and were deeply affected by her death. I also had experienced the death of family members due to cancer or were currently battling cancer. At the time of applying for the scholarship my mom had been diagnosed with breast cancer and I felt led to apply for a scholarship that applied to my life in such a specific way. I loved the message behind the scholarship and wanted to be a part of remembering Grace in such a tangible way. Although scholarships are used for academic purposes, I felt that applying for this scholarship meant more than simply receiving financial help. It allowed me to understand and process the situation and learn how to be there for my own family members with cancer as well as how to sympathize with others. Cancer is such a destructive and heart-breaking disease and I think it's so important to honor those who had lived such a beautiful life. For me, applying for the scholarship was about remembering Grace and being intentional about the way I care for people emotionally and physically.

What did you think when you found out you'd won?

Honestly, I was surprised that I had received the scholarship because I rarely win things like that. I felt so thankful to have been chosen and I wanted to honor Grace and the generous gift by giving all I had to my nursing career. I felt proud of my accomplishments and excited to dedicate myself to the service of others. I thought it was so cool that people were honoring Grace through a triathlon and a scholarship and I was overjoyed that I was chosen to be a part of it.

What does it mean to you to receive this scholarship?

Being chosen for this scholarship was such a blessing and an honor. I saw myself as undeserving of the scholarship but proud to have been chosen. I want to honor both Grace and everyone affected by taking the scholarship seriously and doing all that I can do to use it to better the lives of others. This scholarship is more than academic excellence. It's about selfless love and spreading a little extra kindness to those who are in physical and emotional need. The scholarship was a reminder that life really does throw some curveballs, but kindness and community involvement can make all the difference.

What school are you attending?

Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota

What year are you there?

I am a sophomore

What is your major/area of study?

Nursing major—minor in psychology

What would you like to do with your degree?

I plan on continuing my nursing education after Bethel to become a nurse practitioner. I would love to work as a pediatric trauma nurse or labor and delivery nurse in a hospital. I've also always loved the idea of working at St. Jude Children's Hospital helping children battling cancer. There are so many options in nursing, but I know for sure I want to work with children and babies.

The event

This year's Tri4Grace Memorial Triathlon/Duathlon is set for Saturday, May 12 at River Falls High School. Those interested can sign up for the Triathlon (500-yard swim, 10-mile bike, 2-mile run) or duathlon (10-mile bike, 2-mile run) options either as individuals or teams.

"I am really looking forward to this year's Triathlon/duathlon event," said Sue Goblirsch. "We are so grateful for all the love and support we get from friends and family on this day. We truly appreciate every single participant and volunteer who comes to the Tri4Grace to celebrate Grace's life with us."

For more information, visit www.tri4grace.org.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

(715) 426-1048
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