The Chicago Wolves rolled out the red carpet on Sunday, April 6, for senior Tim Gruensfelder, before the entire team congratulated him on the ice.
Tim was awarded the Tim Breslin Memorial Scholarship, which recognizes a high school senior who has overcome great adversity. It was created in 2006 to honor the legacy of the former Wolves player, who died at the age of 37 of appendiceal cancer.
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"It's the only scholarship we offer," said Courtney Mahoney, senior vice president of operations for the Wolves. "We think it is a tremendous way to honor Tim and his family -- and to be able to give back and positively affect someone's life."
Tim was one of 300 applicants for the Wolves award. He learned of his selection after he received another prestigious honor, the Presidential Scholarship from St. Louis University, which covers his tuition expenses for four years.
Typically, St. Louis officials award between 30 and 40 Presidential scholarships, and draw more than 1,400 applicants.
Besides his excellent academic record and extracurricular activities, Tim described in his scholarship essays overcoming an early diagnosis of cancer at age 4, which has moved from his brain to his spine.
"I've had 13 surgeries, mostly to remove tumors on my spine," Tim said.
The cancer in his spine resulted in his move to a wheelchair when he was in fifth grade but it hasn't held him back. When he arrived at Saint Viator, he learned how to maneuver the hallways and elevator in time to make it to his classes.
"Everyone around me, both at St. Raymond's and here have known what I was going through," Tim said. "They understood and accepted me. I was never bullied or picked on."
In fact, he has used his disability and cancer treatment as a platform to discuss acceptance and tolerance with others.
"I think it helps to talk about it," Tim said, "so that they don't have questions or wonder about it."
Tim said his participation in wheelchair basketball has been the best way to promote awareness of disability. He plays on a nationally ranked team sponsored by the Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association, called the Wave, and he hopes to advance to the local adult team, the Chicago Wheelchair Bulls.
"I love sports," Tim said. "This is great way for people to learn about our abilities."
As St. Louis University, Tim plans to double major in accounting and entrepreneurship, which he thinks will give him a solid foundation for his dream of one day owning his own company.
Br. Rob Robertson, CSV, his counselor over the last four years knows Tim will accomplish anything he sets his mind to.
"We're pretty proud of this young man," Br. Rob said.
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