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Chapman students Elizabeth Boyer and Elli Haskes both have a personal connection to multiple sclerosis. Each knows the brother of a friend struggling with the disease.
So, when Boyer in the 5th grade and Haskes in the 4th grade had the opportunity to enter the 2011 Make Your Mark Against MS poster contest earlier this year, they knew it was important to put their best foot forward.
That's exactly what they did.
Boyer and Haskes were each named the winners of the poster contest in their respective age groups. The two were presented with certificates marking their achievement at a Chapman School town meeting at the end of March and the posters were displayed prominently during the Walk MS, held in Cheshire on April 10.
“I am so excited to get the young people of our community involved in the walk,” said Walk MS planning committee member Debbie Nelson, whose 19-year-old son, Kyle, lives with multiple sclerosis. “By educating our children about MS today, we enlist a new army of MS advocates for the future.”
The contest asked students to draw an inspirational picture and write a message of encouragement to be featured at the Walk in early April.
For her poster, Boyer drew what appeared to be the Earth, with two children, holding hands, walking along. Around the border of the Earth, Boyer wrote “Walk For The Cure 2011” and inside the circle, the Walk MS event was promoted.
Haskes took a different route.
Her picture showed a serene scene with grass and trees, as two walkers, one ahead of the other, made their way along a certain route. Above the scene were the words “Walk For MS” and different inspirational messages were sprinkled throughout.
“I was just drawing it as I went along,” explained Haskes. “It took me about 15 minutes to do the first night. I just knew what I wanted to do.”
While Haskes' poster came together quickly, Boyer developed a rough draft to see how her idea would work. After fine tuning it a bit, she spent a whole night adding the right colors to the project.
“I was just thinking about money, and how people were walking to raise the money, and I came up with the drawing.”
The posters were submitted and sent for review. Both believed their posters were good, but neither gave much thought to winning.
Then, in March, they each received an envelope in the mail.
“The letter inside said 'very happy to inform you,' so I knew I won,” remembered Boyer. “It was really a great feeling.”
Haskes was also elated with her honor, and admitted that some of her classmates looked upon her with a bit of envy.
“Some of my friends, they said 'You won? Darn,'” she remembered, with a laugh. “They wanted to win.”
At the Chapman town meeting, the school planned to recognize both students, and called them up to receive a certificate. However, when the names were called, only Boyer went up to the front.
“I was nervous going up there and then, when I saw it was just me, I said 'oh boy,'” laughed Boyer.
Haskes had been late getting to school that day and arrived right as things were finishing up, missing out on the opportunity to get her certificate in front of the school.
Yet, that recognition was a secondary concern for both students. Helping to spread the word about MS research and the need to raise money to help battle the disease was the biggest reward, both acknowledged.
“It's great to know our posters were at the Walk MS,” said Boyer. “It was great to be a part of that.”