Lucy L.

Second Place Winner

My mother never thought you could learn from the adventure books I swallowed when I was a kid. Harry Potter? What can that teach you? She constantly scolded at me. And in a sense, it's true. Harry Potter defeating Lord Voldemort doesn't really appertain to my everyday life. Percy Jackson defending the Empire State Building against Kronos is the farthest thing away from reality. Katniss Everdeen running in the woods trying to kill fellow teenagers does not help with my next math test. But that's just the superficial aesthetics, the glitz and glam of good storytelling. My mother never saw past this.

Because if you strip the story naked into its pure elements, if you take away the magic of the wizarding world, the mythological quality of Olympus, the futuristic setting of Panem, all you really get is a story about a pathetic little kid and how he (or she) overpowered someone bigger, stronger and much more powerful.

That little kid had to struggle and fail and lose hope. That little kid would face death and sacrifice. And sometimes that little kid would have to toss the unforgiving dice, risk everything on one final move. But no matter what physical or emotional toll the journey had on that little kid, he persisted. And, spoiler alert, he succeeded. And it is this persistence that inspired me to take on a villain that is much more heartless and evil: Alzheimer's.

When I see my grandmother slowly losing her mind to this disease, it seems like it's winning. It's Voldemort gaining supporters. It's Kronos getting stronger. It's President Snow killing the rebels. But I have hope. It took my heroes seven books, five books, three books to defeat their respective villains. It'll take this world much longer. Grandmothers and grandfathers will die with their wisdom and their memory. This is my promise to Harry, Percy and Katniss.

This is my thank you for showing me never to give up.