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Brady Sisters 'This is Me Scholarships' Inspired by Risco and Polhill

Lauren and Caitlin Brady started a scholarship inspired by their friends, who helped them accept living with alopecia.

Two of the well-known Peekskill Brady sisters have started the “This Is Me Scholarship” to encourage youth to accept who they are and overcome adversity, and to honor two friends who helped them through their own hardships.

The scholarship is inspired by and , the Brady sisters’ good friends who died unexpectedly at ages 26 and 28, respectively, in separate incidents last year. Risco and Polhill were two of the most supportive people for the “This is Me” founders, Lauren, 27, and Caitlin, 22, as they dealt with alopecia, a common disease that results in the loss of hair on the scalp and elsewhere on the body.

“It is very important for us to share their legacy with the community and honor their names as they truly inspired us in life, and even more now as our guardian angels,” Lauren Brady said.

Although alopecia is painless, losing your hair as a teenage girl takes an emotional toll and affects self-image and self-confidence, the sisters explain. And their two friends were always there to support and encourage them. Risco even appeared in their  to raise awareness of self-confidence issues and of alopecia, released on YouTube last year. Polhill supported the girls in their awareness campaign as well.

"Our purpose is so much more driven now (that Risco and Pohill are gone) because this is what we should be doing and we want to make people's lives better," Lauren said. "They were so supportive of us and proud of what we were doing. We want to do this to help others overcome adversity like they helped us."

Tonight, even though Lauren and Caitlin are still grieving over their loss, they will be smiling when they say Ryan and Caitlin’s names, because they will be honoring them by helping others.

The two asked applicants to submit an essay on how they overcame adversity or helped a friend with hardships. A panel of people close to Risco and Polhill chose the the scholarship winners based on how inspiring their stories were and several other factors (letter of recommendation, resume, acceptance into a college). The panel was not aware of whose applications they were reading when they made their choices. Peekskill High School’s Caitlin Orhelein and Valerie Kropf were selected.

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“These girls are just so inspiring and their stories are so amazing,” Lauren said. “They have faced horrible situations but have worked to become successful in the face of adversity and are still able to have smiles on their faces.”

Orhelein will be attending SUNY New Paltz and Kropf will be attending SUN Platsburgh next year. They will receive their awards at a Peekskill Senior Awards Ceremony at the at 7 p.m. tonight.

To learn more about the “This is Me” campaign and scholarship, email the Brady’s at promo@LNBentertainment.com.

Joanie Sirefman June 20, 2012 at 11:23 AM
What a wonderful tribute and a terrific way to raise awareness for a disease that most people have never heard of.
Deb Carlin Polhill June 20, 2012 at 12:15 PM
We are so grateful to Lauren and Caitlin Brady for remembering and honoring our precious Cait Chivonne. Well done girls - we are so proud of the work you do for this important cause and are inspired by your passion and your leadership!
Gina DeBonis June 20, 2012 at 12:30 PM
So proud of you girls! Bravo ; )
Peekskill Day Camp June 20, 2012 at 01:13 PM
Anyone who knows any of the fantastic Brady Girls knows that they can make any situation brighter, but this story of Lauren and Caitlin's thoughtfulness and generosity is inspiring. Their extraordinary empathy and spirit of giving has touched so many with this scholarship that they created to honor their friends. Like the Brady Girls, it will help those students who have turned around a difficult situation. Lauren and Caitlin ...amazing work! Dawn & Jim Tosto
Michelle Carter June 20, 2012 at 01:30 PM
How inspiring. Keep up the good work- we need more like you in this world!
Kathie June 20, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Wonderful story from 2 lovely young ladies. Way to go!
Sherrill Murray-Lazarus June 20, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Lauren and Caitlin Brady are such an inspiration! I commend them for their spirit of selflessness (a family trait inherited from two wonderful parents), for their kind hearts, caring hands, and common sense approach to helping others through adversity. Congratulations to the award recipients and to the Brady ladies, as well!
Ann F. Brady June 20, 2012 at 03:57 PM
My heart and soul are filled with pride. Great Job! Continue inspiring others with your future endeavors. So proud that you are giving back to your community. Congrats to Valerie and Caitlin.
Jack Carey June 20, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Truly a "pair that beats a full house". Congratulations girls for your continued commitment to others. You have always been The Best!!! Jack Carey
marcela June 20, 2012 at 07:12 PM
Congratulations, Caitlin and Lauren for a great execution of a wonderful idea! Congratulations to the selected applicants, too!
Brad Polhill June 21, 2012 at 12:58 AM
The Bradys are the salt of the earth. Thanks for remembering Cait with such a great tribute.
Ton3 June 21, 2012 at 01:20 AM
I love these girls -Ton3
Kathleen Kourie June 21, 2012 at 02:02 PM
What a wonderful story, turning adversity into inspiration and assistance to others. Awesome tribute to your friends. Powerful lessons to us all. Congratulations ladies.
Benjamin Lewia June 26, 2012 at 12:49 PM
I wouldn't expect anything less from these ladies....wonderful job
Chereese Jervis-Hill June 26, 2012 at 08:21 PM
Awww, you ladies ROCK!!!

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