We are announcing one of the recipients of our scholarship fund for individuals with disabilities: Steven Blodgett. Steven hails from Salt Lake City and is currently enrolled at Brigham Young University (BYU).
A true lover of knowledge and academia, Steven graduated from Skyline Senior High with a straight 4.0 GPA. He enjoys math and other subjects and is also a music lover. The young man also serves as a regular volunteer and missionary, helping families fleeing Ukraine into Lithuania get settled as they decide where the next part of life’s journey will take them.
Steven’s lifetime of experiences has taught him the value of being responsible and how to be more empathetic to his fellow human beings. We wish him the best of luck as he completes his program at BYU and moves on to other amazing things!
No Rest for the Driven: Steven Remains Active in School, at Church, and on the Ski Slopes
Diagnosed with bone cancer at age nine, Steven faced a challenge that would completely alter the trajectory of his life. He and his family had to come to grips with the decision to take the affected leg, and he would also undergo multiple rounds of intensive chemotherapy treatment. The chemo would affect Steven’s hearing, damaging it to the point that he now uses two hearing aids in most public situations.
Needless to say, the experience was extremely taxing on both Steven and his family. Steven’s life was disrupted by the traumatic surgery and the need for further treatment. But, almost immediately, he began to adapt and become stronger to meet his challenges head-on.
Through intensive rehabilitation, Steven would learn to walk again and perform other activities with the use of a prosthetic leg. He would then go on to adopt new skills that he had never acquired before, most particularly: skiing.
“Now I am an advanced skier and love to ski difficult runs with my friends,” writes Steven. He says that his experiences taught him to be grateful for what he has and to take advantage of every opportunity offered to him to enjoy life and learn everything he can about the world around him.
A Compassionate Individual Who Seeks to Improve the Lives of Others
Undergoing his amputation, cancer treatment, and rehabilitation was a major trial for Steven, but he came out the other side with more zeal and passion for the things he appreciated most in life. Among those, he had perhaps the most appreciation for the medical institutions that, in no mixed terms, helped save his life and to give him a new life thanks to a prosthesis donated in part by the Shriners Hospital for Children.
Being grateful wasn’t enough for Steven; he wanted to give back. Using his talents and his passion for music, he began to volunteer at the Primary Children’s Hospital, where he received his amputation and treatment. He filled the lobby with beautiful music for one hour each week, sitting at a grand piano surrounded by patients eager for a peaceful distraction.
Steven also serves as a Patient Ambassador for the Shriners Hospital for Children. He represents the hospital at events, speaks on behalf of other patients, assists the hospital with fundraisers, and serves as a mentor to other young amputees.
Through the mission work of his church, Steven also helps perform outreach and support for needy families. His first long-term assignment was in Texas, followed by a stint in Lithuania. There, in Lithuania, he helped Ukrainian refugees in any way he could. He hauled wood, taught English classes, and spoke to many parents and young children through cold nights.
“This service has been transformative,” Steven reflects. “I’ve seen first-hand the impact that selfless love can have on others.”
One major lesson Steven learned is to see beyond the immediate impacts a tragedy can have on individuals. In nearly every case, that tragedy is a shared experience. Most specifically, he wishes others understood the effects childhood cancer has on the entire family, not just the person with the diagnosis.
“In my experience, cancer was very painful and very intense. But this pain and intensity was magnified and spread to everyone close to me. We focus so much on supporting the childhood cancer patient, but I worry that we forget that trauma is not an individual struggle.”
Steven’s experiences have taught him to see families as a whole made up of individuals: any suffering by one is felt by all. That is likely part of what motivates him to offer up his labor, his mind, and his patient ear for any task at hand when it comes to helping those undergoing a challenge.
Grateful for the Strength and Positive Example of His Namesake
When asked if there was someone he wanted to thank, Steven noted his appreciation for his entire family’s support. Most of all, he wanted to pay tribute to his grandfather, with whom he shares the same name: Steven Blodgett.
“He was such an incredibly kind person, someone who made everyone feel special and loved. Beyond that, he was keenly intelligent and wise. Even though he’s been gone for a few years, everyone who remembers him remembers his legacy of goodness. I want that same legacy, and I strive to live up to his name every day.”
Steven loves learning math, physics, music, and Russian. He intends to become an astrophysicist and someday even teach physics.
Clearly, his grandfather’s influence extends beyond being kind to others into a distinct passion for learning and exploring that knowledge.
May Your Academic Pursuits Take You to the Stars and Beyond
We have no doubt that Steven will smash his academic career outside of the ballpark, given his consistency and accomplishments at a young age. Like other great teachers, Steven is quick to share his gifts and the lessons he has learned with others. Like his namesake, he clearly demonstrates a sense of honor that comes with conducting oneself in a way consistent with their values. And as a thank you to the people who helped him overcome a terrifying illness, Steven puts both of his legs to good use every day, whether on the ski slopes or by assisting families in need.
May your journey of knowledge take you beyond the stars, Steven, and may your heart keep you grounded here on earth, helping others get through the tough times that each family must get through together.