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Perham student wins competitive scholarship

Brad Richards and Jerome Tappe, left to right, from Nereson Chevrolet in Detroit Lakes, recently presented Perham High School senior Ben Sullivan with his scholarship on behalf of the Heartland Chevy Dealers. Submitted photo

Whether or not any kids will admit it, moms seem to come up with some of the best ideas and plans.

Right now, that knowledge is fresh in Perham High School senior Ben Sullivan’s mind. He just won $5,000 toward his college education from the Heartland Chevy Dealers’ Scholarship Program.

“My mom actually heard about it and then she was like, ‘Hey, you should have somebody submit you for this,’” Ben said in a recent interview.

He agreed and asked his aunt, Denise Schornack, to write and submit an essay nominating him for the scholarship.

“She’s been very supportive of me in the past, and she was definitely a good choice,” Ben said.

“He is the little train that could; the little train that would not give up and the little train that will finish the race,” Schornack wrote in her essay, telling of Ben’s keep-at-it attitude.

That initiative is responsible, at least in part, for Ben winning the contest.

So are the people who rooted for him.

Of thousands of submitted essays, 10 finalists were chosen to be put up for a vote on the dealers’ Facebook page. Ben was among those selected.

After that, he said, he started to reach out to people on Facebook to build awareness of the competition and collect more votes.

In the end, Ben succeeded – he had the most votes and won the grand-prize scholarship. Other finalists got $500.

“I was not necessarily expecting it,” Ben said of winning. “I knew that I had the same chance as everybody else, so I went for it and hoped for the best… but I had no expectations going into it.”

“I had people coming up to me afterword, people – I had no idea who they were – just congratulating me,” Ben said. “It let me know people were spreading the word… I couldn’t believe how supportive Perham was from the beginning.”

“I knew Perham was supportive, but, after this… it just is unbelievable,” he added. “It takes what you would think about a little town to a whole new level. How each person cares for everybody else and, how even if they get no benefit from it, they’re willing to go the extra mile just to help you out and help you to succeed.”

After graduation, Ben plans to attend Concordia College in Moorhead and major in biology. From there, he would like to earn his doctorate in physical therapy and be the one helping others.

Ben said he loves running cross country and track, as well as swimming, and knows how an injury can ruin the fun.

“So, I would just like to help people who are struggling and help them get back to doing what their passion is,” he said.