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The Steuben Courier Advocate
  • Jack Lisi Awards: Teens achieve success in face of adversity

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  • BATH | Kelly Jones, a junior at Haverling High School, lost his mother to cancer early in his life, and hers.
    With his father suffering health problems, he's had to take on more responsibility.
    That hasn't stopped him from playing varsity tennis, or from succeeding in his studies.
    Ashley Balch, a Corning West student, has had multiple surgeries to address her spina bifida, a congenital defect in the spine that can cause severe problems.
    But even her most recent surgery, just last year, hasn't stopped her from receiving her CNA certification through BOCES, and won't stop her, she says, from attending a pre-med program and becoming a doctor.
    “I've been through a lot to get here,” Balch said.
    These two young people, and the six others honored Friday night, are at the heart of what the creators of the Jack Lisi Youth Award program were trying to recognize when the program began in 1992.
    The intention was to honor the legacy of former Steuben County Sheriff Jack Lisi, who was known for helping struggling young people turn their lives around.
    As the program's board president, Mark Alger, noted in his introduction to the awards presentations, the Jack Lisi Youth Awards have provided $166,900 to 176 recipients since its founding.
    “This unique award has been highly successful because many people care,” Alger said.
    Key to the application process for the awards is to show that the student has overcome some obstacle that could have prevented them from achieving their goals, whether it's the loss of a parent, a debilitating medical condition, a learning disability or a difficult family situation.
    Along with Jones and Balch, those honored Friday were:
    • Dakota Leadbeater of Corning.
    • Richard Devine of Bath.
    • Latisha Foskey of Cameron.
    • Ben Knoll of Hornell.
    • Cienna Tomb of Bath.
    • Daniel J. Wyatt of Bath.
    Each honoree was presented with a certificate for $1,500 to help them in their college plans.
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