For four years in a row, Indy Runners has awarded two $500 scholarships to local high school graduates whose lives have been positively impacted by the sport of running. This years’ winners are Jada Coleman from Ben Davis High School and Katie Manion from North Central High School.
Erika Wells, who the scholarship is named after, was a beloved member of Indy Runners who passed away in October 2016. Her dedication to service, personal growth, and social engagement was unparalleled, and she embodied Indy Runners’ belief in the transformative power of running as part of a healthy lifestyle and a way to unify a community. The Erika Wells Scholarship is awarded to high school graduates who exemplify these characteristics.
Katie was a member of the North Central Panthers cross country team all four years and a team captain for the 2018-19 season. She also ran track her freshman and sophomore years of high school and competed in the Mini Marathon in 2016. She graduated with a 4.379 grade point average and will be attending Saint Louis University in the fall.
Each scholarship applicant was asked to write and submit an essay on how they came to love running, what the sport of running means to them, or how they believe running will impact their future. We are happy to share Katie’s essay below.
At the age of seven, my parents signed me up for my elementary school’s running club. At the age of eight, I ran my first 5k. By the time I was nine, my neighbor and I were running around our neighborhood together on a daily basis. When I was 11, I completed my first cross country season at Eastwood Middle School, and I loved every minute of it. At this point in my life, running kept me going. It gave me something to look forward to after school, a way to release my negative emotions, and a way to keep my growing body strong.
Right before my 12th birthday, I found myself in the hospital at Riley. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. While sitting in my bed, my doctors rattled off the dangers of running and the precautions that I would need to take in order to be able to continue to practice the sport I love. I was told that running would become incredibly challenging and that I would have to wear monitors while on the move to ensure my safety. I would have to take lengthy breaks between reps and space out my workouts to keep my glucose levels stable. They told me it would be hard to get faster. I made varsity the next year. And the year after that. I did not let myself become defined by my diagnosis and I refused to let it slow me down.
As I went into high school, my body began to slow down as my disease became harder to control. It became evident that maintaining the speed that I had known for so long would be nearly impossible. Freshmen year was the most difficult. Not only was I trying to find my place on the team socially, but I was watching myself fall behind my peers in practice. By the time the first meet rolled around, I was nowhere close to making varsity. I was having to sit out of practice two or three times a week, and it was honestly humiliating. I always felt like people thought I was a slacker or uncommitted, but in reality, I was just sick.
Before this point, I loved running for the competition. I loved collecting my ribbons and hanging up medals in my room. However, I was no longer able to compete at the level that I had in the past. I began to receive less and less medals, and my bulletin board full of ribbons did not become any more impressive. But during this time, I began to love running more and more. It reminded me that I was still strong, and it still does. Though I cannot run everyday, I feel unstoppable when I am able to. It has taught me that I do not need to be the fastest to be the happiest, and that is all that matters.
Remember, if you think you know a deserving young candidate for the 2020 Erika Wells Scholarship, encourage them to apply this upcoming winter/spring!