2020 marks the fifth year in a row that Indy Runners has awarded the Erika Wells Memorial Scholarship. Traditionally two $500 scholarships are given to local high school graduates whose lives have been positively impacted by the sport of running. This year we added an additional $500 scholarship to a deserving candidate thanks to the support of Indy Runners members and a gift from Dr. Michael Helms. The three winners are Jane Hirschman from North Central High School, Jaliaya Molett from Charles A Tindley Accelerated High School, and William Hackler from Franklin 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 Memorial Scholarship is awarded to high school seniors who exemplify these characteristics.
Jane Hirschman was a varsity member of the North Central Panthers cross country and track and field teams. She was also a National Honor Society member and highly active in several school clubs and activities. She graduated with a 5.26 GPA and is currently attending Bowdoin College.
Each scholarship applicant was asked to 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 Jane’s essay below.
When my parents gave me the options of running or swimming to get in exercise after third grade, I begrudgingly chose running, only because swimming seemed too difficult. Little did I know what I was in for. I joined the middle school cross country team in fourth grade, by far the slowest on the team. Yet I kept showing up. Somehow as the years ticked by, I became faster and soon ran the school record for the
Due to my success in middle school, I felt encouraged me to run cross country my freshman year of high school. However, I was mainly running to earn a gym credit. This decision was one of the greatest decisions I have made so far in my life. High school is where I have fallen in love with running. I have come to appreciate every aspect of the sport. The long runs before the sun rises when you only can hear your
breathing. The cross country camp hill repeats where every time you get to the top you think you can’t do another and yet somehow you do. Endless laps on the track where with each lap you feel increasingly more accomplished. I love it all: the good, bad, and ugly. Every single bit of it.
Not only have I fallen in love with the running, it has also given me a second family, a second home. I could never have accomplished what I have done without my team and coaches. Running has a unique ability to be both an individual and team sport. Because of this, I have celebrated both the highs and the lows with my team. We’ve seen each other at both our bests and worsts. Through it all, my team and
coaches have been there for me. I could not have imagined my high school years without the dedication and support I have received from my running community.
Running has led me down paths I never thought I would have experienced. I have found myself doing 400 meter repeats in a hotel hallway when I was unable to go outside. I’ve spent my summers waking up at 5:30 am to go to cross country practice when all I’ve wanted to do is sleep. I’ve gotten covered in mud from races and had to tape my spikes on to make sure that they wouldn’t get pulled off. And yet in spite, or maybe even because of all the crazy things I’ve done, running is where my heart is. Never did my 9 year old self think that I would be going on to run in college, yet somehow here I am. More excited than ever to put in the miles and miles that will be full of joy. Through it all, all the adversity, joy, and challenges I face in my life, I know that running will always be there for me.
Remember, if you know a deserving young candidate for the 2021 Erika Wells Memorial Scholarship, encourage them to apply this upcoming winter/spring. To be notified when applications open, please email GivingBack@IndyRunners.org.