America & Me Essay Contest

Essay contest winners (from left) Halie Greene, Emma Rose and Tiffany Zheng. (Photo courtesy of Laurie Zywiczynski)

Three students from Wayland Union Middle School have been named local winners in the 49th annual “America & Me” essay contest, sponsored by Farm Bureau Insurance.

The three students, who earned first, second, and third place awards for their school, were Halie Greene, first, Emma Rose, second, and Tiffany Zheng, third. All three received award certificates for their achievement.

As the school’s first place winner, Halie’s name will also be engraved on a plaque for permanent display in the school.

Greene’s first place essay now advances to the state level competition, from which the top ten essays in Michigan will be selected. The top ten state-wide winners, who will be selected in April, will each receive a plaque, a medallion and a cash award of $1,000.  In addition, the top ten essayists will be honored at the banquet in Lansing, meet with Michigan’s top governmental leaders, and be the featured guests at a Lansing Lugnuts minor league baseball game dedicated in their honor.

A team of finalist judges that includes a top Michigan government official and the sponsoring teachers of last year’s top two statewide winners this year.

Several thousand eighth grade students from over 350 Michigan schools took part in the 2017-2018 essay contest, which was conducted with the help of Farm Bureau Insurance agents across the state. The topic of the 2017-2018 contest was “My Personal Michigan Hero.”

Started in 1968 and open to all Michigan eighth grade students, the contest encourages Michigan youngsters to explore the greatness of America and its people. As sponsor of the contest, Farm Bureau Insurance has earned 11 national awards from the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge.

My Michigan Hero by Amelia Sweet

I was introduced to my hero about 13 years ago. I have to say, that was probably one of the best moments of my life. My hero doesn’t wear a uniform or a cape, but she goes by the name Mom.

My mom wakes up everyday with pain radiating all over her body. She once told me that it is like the aftermath of a big and painful shot, but all over. My mom has Fibromyalgia and Chronic Lyme disease. The Fibromyalgia causes intense pain everyday and the Lyme disease makes it worse, it also makes her super tired. Lyme disease is transmitted by a tick that is infected with the Lyme bacteria. When the diseased tick bites it can sometimes destroy the immune system which in turn makes you prone to diseases like Fibromyalgia. If someone has Lyme when pregnant the child is automatically born with Lyme, so that means that I also have Lyme disease in my system. I too have to be careful to keep my immune system strong. Unfortunately, the insurance companies don’t recognize these diseases and therefore don’t cover the cost of treating them. Every eight weeks my mother gets and LDI shot (lyme disease injection) to boost her immune system. Without the LDIs she would be miserable. The abundance of vitamins given to her through IVs and LDI shots help her to feel somewhat better so she can go to work and carry out the necessary day-to-day activities.

My mom works at Hurley Hospital as an Art Therapist. That means that she works with people who have mental illness, substance abuse, people who were mentally or physically abused and people with depression. She helps them express themselves through art. At her job she works with multiple patients with different illnesses like schizophrenia. Some of the patients she works with have anger issues or may have thoughts or made attempts to hurt themselves or others.

Years ago, my mom studied for four years at Sienna Heights University in Michigan and an additional two years at Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania. There she got her Masters Degree in Art Therapy. My mom loves her profession very much. While my mom was in Pennsylvania, she was working at a bookstore to help pay for her education, and it was at that bookstore she met my father. Now, my mother takes care of my grandmother who we all live with. My grandma has a severe spinal injury and needs help to do things. My mom’s hobbies and loves are making art and music, and being with animals. Family is super important to her and I know that she would do anything for them.

I can only imagine how much she is going through. With having to work with gloomy people, having Fibromyalgia, then being extremely tired on top of it all. My mom provided so much for my family and for others. I feel like she is struggling to keep her head above water sometimes and that makes me angry because she does not deserve it. She is my hero because she never gives up or gives in. She is the glue that holds my family together. She is an inspiration to so many people including myself, and I’m more than proud to call her mom.

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