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Coones Family Memorial Scholarship Winner Announced

Scholarship Coincides with Olathe’s Pumpkin Run

September 25, 2013

This year’s recipient of the MNU Coones Family Memorial Scholarship, chosen from applicants’ essays about living a life of purpose, has overcome adversity to become a freshman at MNU. Natalie Flickinger was five when doctors diagnosed her with a malignant brain tumor. If she survived the surgery to remove it, doctors told her mother it was unlikely she would ever speak again. Not only does she speak, the eighteen-year-old nursing major has used her time and talents to read aloud to elementary children in the urban core.

Natalie says the drive to help others stems partly from mission trips she’s taken to a Navajo Indian reservation in New Mexico and to Minnesota’s Twin Cities, where she learned “the joy of selfless giving.” Volunteering for Habitat for Humanity in Kansas City, Mo., and stocking supplies at a food kitchen for the homeless remind her how grateful she is to have the “life I was given.”

Natalie’s cancer treatment as a child was lengthy. The Olathe Northwest grad says the close relationship she gained at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., with a particular radiation oncology nurse, had a lasting impact on her life and her career choice.

“She lives with purpose every day,” Natalie says of her beloved nurse. “She reaches out to her patients and is the inspiration for my choice to pursue nursing as a career. Without her continued encouragement, professionalism and genuine concern for me over these years I might have given up.”

Natalie says she likes anatomy and physiology class at MNU and is getting many of the general education courses completed in her first 15-hour semester. A career in nursing, she says, will allow her to accomplish her life’s purpose.

“It’s my intent to live out the rest of my life reaching out to others,” she says. “Once achieving my education and degree in nursing I am optimistic of going back to St. Jude not as a patient but as an employee.”

Tom Coones, founder of The Jared Coones Pumpkin Run/Walk, and a 1991 alumnus of MNU, met with Natalie recently and says her enthusiasm for life and helping others makes her a fitting recipient of the scholarship. The scholarship, started by MNU as a part of the university’s partnership with the Pumpkin Run/Walk as title sponsor, is a $500 award that students can apply to books or tuition at MNU. It is given in memory of Tom Coone’s wife and son, Jayne and Jared, to one incoming MNU student each academic year. Applicants must exhibit financial need and the desire to impact their community.

Coones, his surviving family members and hundreds of community members organize the annual Jared Coones Pumpkin Run in Olathe to raise awareness and funding for leukemia research. Jared was 10 when he succumbed to the disease in 1998. His mother Jayne later fought breast cancer and passed away in 2006.

New MNU students may apply for the $500 scholarship by submitting an essay detailing their own purposeful life, and how they seek to make a difference in their community. Recipients are selected based on financial need, GPA and the essay submission. For more information on the Coones Family Memorial Scholarship, contact Student Financial Services at (913) 971.3298.

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