We are so excited to announce our 2020 Smile Scholarship winner!
For 15 years, one of our favorite things in the world is getting the chance to read all of the submissions we get for our scholarship. We always get some really amazing entries and this year was no exception! They had us laughing, smiling, and left us feeling proud of every person that shared their story with us.
We had so many entries but we could only pick one!
As we read through EVERY essay we knew we were going to be hard-pressed to choose a winner. We came across one essay in particular that made all of us truly “LOL”. Not in the way you do where you kind of smile and just type LOL, but the kind where you get a full belly laugh and it leaves a smile on your face.
The Winner is *Drum Roll* Jordan Wilburn!
Jordan Wilburn is the brilliant mind behind this year’s winning essay. Jordan started treatment with us in 2009, and she’s so full of personality. She’s a 2020 graduate from Tupelo Highschool with big plans to attend Mississippi State University where she will major in Biochemistry.
We could go on and on about her entry and about “what makes her smile,” but we’ll let you see for yourself.
Congratulations to all of the 2020 seniors! We wish you all the best of luck in all of your future endeavors!
What Makes Me Smile?
By Jordan Wilburn – 2020
I never liked soccer. Something about it bored me endlessly; I would rather count the blades of grass on the field than worry about red cards and referees, and one particular day absolutely ruined it for me. It was a warm fall evening, but a brisk breeze ruffled the trees. I whined and pouted; my dad dragged me to the car nonetheless: time for some Thursday night soccer. I stomped up to the field, and my coach looked down… I had forgotten my shin guards. “Cha-ching!” I thought: I had avoided playing for the evening. To my dismay, my parents had wisened up to my schemes; a stern talking-to and a trip back home for my shin guards was in order. Upon returning to the field, I had inadvertently forgotten something else.
My dad drove me home to retrieve my gear, but he must have been so annoyed by my antics that he failed to give me a once over when I got back in the car. “Go ahead and run up to the field,” he told me, rummaging in the trunk for his lawn chair. I rolled my eyes and dragged my feet. The sky was melting into a sherbet of swirling pinks and man, was that wind chilly…
It was just after half-time, and my coach thrust me into my position as midfielder. Before long, I heard my dad shouting from the sidelines, beckoning me over. Expecting him to critique my passing or order me to hustle, I glanced up and noticed he was not wearing a chastising expression, instead, a look of pure shock. Confused, I looked down and saw Hannah Montana’s smiling face staring back up at me; my face grew red with embarrassed heat; I tugged my jersey down, but it was too late…
How did I manage to go to soccer in my underwear? It was a perfect storm of parents rushing, my forgetful nature, and the ditziness that accompanies many eight-year-olds wherever they go. Hey, at least I remembered my shin guards!
Many of life’s brightest moments start out nothing short of mortifying, but the true beauty lies in the laughter that ensues when reflecting on them. Take for instance the time I tearfully called a tow-truck to pull my car out of the yard after an ill-advised attempt at a three-point turn, or the occasion I took a cartoonish tumble in the vet’s office parking lot after getting tangled in a web of dog leashes. Looking back on this collection of mistaken mishaps and brainless blunders always brings a grin to my face: a real smile, the kind that squinches your eyes together and makes your cheeks hurt. They say life is what one makes of it, and it is the silly instances that give life its sweet, effervescent flavor. Finding the whimsy in every day is sure to bring a love for life that will bubble out from inside in the form of a beaming smile.