Interview with Mary Kay Bottorff, Cystic Fibrosis Scholarship Foundation
I met Mary Kay Bottorff in our aqua aerobics class at the Y. At first, she was just the lady in the turquoise swimsuit. But, she turned out to be much more than that. Welcome to OpEdNews, Mary Kay. You're sponsoring a wine-tasting event this weekend. Tell us about it.
CFSF is having a French wine-tasting on Sunday afternoon, January 31st from 2 to 5 at the River East Art Center in downtown Chicago.
That sounds lovely. Who or what exactly is CFSF?
CFSF is the Cystic Fibrosis Scholarship Foundation which I founded in 1999 to help young adults with CF to go to college.
What caused you to found this organization more than ten years ago?
Our son who was born in 1982 has cystic fibrosis. When he was born, life expectancy was late teens. With medical advances, that has increased to late 30s. As these young adults now have a life to plan for, they needed help with school as CF is a very expensive disease and many families cannot help their children because of the medical costs.
Is this foundation for students in Illinois only?
No, the program is open to students across the country. Since I got started, we have awarded about $700,000 in scholarships.
That's impressive. How many students do you serve?
Currently, there are about 95 students receiving awards from us. We award both single year awards and multiple year awards. The breakdown depends on how much money we have raised during the year. The students that receive a one year award can reapply in the following year for another award.
How do you decide among the candidates? Do you have a lot more applicants than money?
We receive about 120 applications per year and are able to make about 60 awards. The criteria are a combination of financial need and academics. Students file an application as well as transcripts, tax return information, recommendation and essay as well as a note from their doctor verifying that they have cystic fibrosis.
Do you get feedback along the way from the students you've helped?
Yes, we get two letters from each student each year. We pair each student with a donor who they write to twice each year. Letters are sent to us and we forward them to our donors. The students can include personal information if they want to have the donor to communicate with them directly. We are also starting to get some donations from students we have helped in the past.