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ABC Medical Awards Scholarships in 'Make a Difference' Category to 3 Outstanding Individuals

Nov 19, 2018 3:19:20 PM / by Brittany Gustafson

We are thrilled to announce the ABC Medical Fall 2018 "Making a Difference" Scholarship recipients! Congratulations to Nick Balenger, Seth Penny, and Lauren Guerra.

Each of these amazing individuals show so much passion for bettering themselves and the lives of people around them. At ABC Medical, we share the same passion to improve the lives of those living with disabilities as well as recognize people who support and advocate for them. Together, we can all Adapt.Believe.Compete.

Keep reading to meet our outstanding scholarship recipients as they share their stories in their own words.


IMG_0045Nick Balenger
"I am a 22-year-old college student at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. I am a huge sports fan, and grew up playing baseball, in which I won two Virginia State Championships. When I was 17 years old I suffered a spinal cord injury diving into the ocean while on vacation in Hawaii. Following my injury, I pushed myself harder than ever before; I was determined to regain my independence and learn to walk again. My hard work and determination paid off 10 months after my injury when I was able to walk across the stage at my high school graduation using a walker. 

My journey taught me the importance of helping others, and the profound effect that I could have on inspiring and motivating those around me. I began to share my story through giving motivational speeches and keynote addresses. I was recognized for my efforts by being given the National Rehabilitation Hospital Victory Award, an award given for courage, perseverance, and inspiration in the face of physical adversity. My favorite hobbies are fishing and going to sporting events. I also enjoy coaching and this spring I am the head coach for a little league baseball team (10-12 year old’s) in the league that I used to play in as a kid. My journey of rehabilitation and experiences volunteering in my community have instilled in me a passion for helping others, and that passion has led me to apply to law school which I will be attending in the Fall of 2018."


What does the following motto mean to you: Adapt. Believe. Compete.?

"When I think of the term adapt, I think of making the best out of the situation you are in. When I got injured my whole life was turned upside down. Baseball was my greatest passion and a huge part of my life and I thought that being disabled meant I had lost my purpose and even my identity. What I did not realize was that often times when one door closes another opens, and that I would eventually learn to adapt and develop a new purpose and passions in life.

The term believe. always reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” This refers to the importance of a positive mindset, and that if you believe you can do something, you will often be rewarded with success.

Compete. is a concept that has been instilled in me from a young age. Through competing against my older brother in everything, competing at the highest level in athletics, and eventually competing against myself to persevere and recover from a life changing injury, competition has always been a major theme in my life."

How will this scholarship help you achieve your goals?

"This scholarship will help me pay for my law school education through which I would further my purpose of helping others and giving back. I have always enjoyed volunteering in my community, helping those in need, and inspiring others to do the same. As an attorney, I plan on using my skills to represent the underprivileged in society by helping them overcome the obstacles in their lives just as so many have helped me overcome obstacles in my life."


Picture 2Seth Penny
Seth is a full-time student at Missouri Southern State and majors in Accounting.
 "I believe the choices I made in life before my injury placed me in a unique position to help others avoid the path I took by telling my story. What I ended up with was a broken neck and a long way back to find who I was supposed to be. After much physical and emotional rehab, I found myself in a place where I could talk to others about where their choices could land them if they continue down a reckless path like the one I took. It gave me purpose for the first time and I began to see life from a whole new perspective. My favorite hobby is spending time with my 3 young nephews (ages 4, 2, and 7 months). They are absolutely the coolest dudes on the planet. I have always been passionate about sports. I lettered in 5 sports my junior year of high school (football, baseball, golf, basketball, track). Now, I love attending sporting events with my dad...I want the memories that will span a lifetime. These are the things that I desire most, not just with my father, but many others as well."

What does the following motto mean to you: Adapt. Believe. Compete.?


"After having a life altering injury, it means first, being able to take what life throws at you and turning it into something useful. It means refusing to let change keep you from making everything you can from the situation you find yourself in. Secondly, it means not just telling yourself that you can handle a traumatic change in life but proving it to yourself. If you can’t prove it to yourself then you’ll never be able to fully accomplish your goals. Thirdly, it is a challenge. Finding competition in all facets of life keeps you alive and moving forward. It refuses to let you become stagnant and underachieve. You may not always win or complete the highest level, but if you don’t try to reach your goals there will always be a “what if” thought lingering in the back of your mind. Failure isn’t necessarily bad, it means you tried. Now you must get back up and go again."

How will this scholarship help you achieve your goals?

"This scholarship will enable me to not only reach my goals quicker, but to help others sooner. I never realized all the barriers and skyrocketed costs that come with disabilities like mine and I am sure that there are plenty of people out there in a place like mine that just need some encouragement and a boost to get started on a path to finding their own purpose in life. I would love to play even the smallest of roles in helping someone get back on their feet and knock their barriers down."


lauren 3Lauren Guerra 

"I am a senior at Saint Francis High School and I am actively applying for Fall 2019 admission to New York University (NYU). My educational goal is to become a Civil Engineering. I want to promote building accessibility and incorporate universal design for all. One of my favorite volunteer activities happens to be the aquatic therapy I provide to individuals with physical and developmental disabilities at the Senior Center in Santa Clara.

I am a certified Life Guard and I volunteer to provide aquatic therapy instruction to those who require this activity to improve and foster their fine and gross motor coordination. It is extremely rewarding to see their progress as an exercise that was difficult in the beginning is now an automatic, routine skill they possess. It truly builds up their self-esteem and self-confidence and it is amazing to experience the results and joy that aquatic therapy brings to their lives."

What does the following motto mean to you: Adapt. Believe. Compete.?


"I believe ABC Medical's motto of Adapt. Believe. Compete begins with one's self. An American author, Tim Fargo said it best, "Starting a new way is never easy so...keep starting until the start sticks."

Adaptation is the building block or foundation of an individual's ability to achieve a true customization to meet one's needs. When an individual begins to believe in themselves, it sparks hope for innovation to occur where true adaptations are born.

The trials and tribulations along the way are the building blocks to achieve an ultimate adaptation by competing with one's self to overcome one's physical limitations. In my opinion, the journey to adaption is extremely personal and enlightening for one's self-development."

How will this scholarship help you achieve your goals?

"This scholarship will support my future goal of achieving my baccalaureate degree in Civil Engineering with a minor in Architecture. As I enter the workforce after the completion of my degree, I would ensure that all public pool facilities are equipped with appropriate and modern accommodations to support aquatic therapy for all individuals to partake in aquatic therapy."


Congratulations Nick, Seth, and Lauren on your scholarship awards! We wish each of you the best as you continue on your journey to Adapt.Believe.Compete. 


Topics: scholarship stories

Brittany Gustafson

Written by Brittany Gustafson

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