Scholarship recipient says James Island Connector run brings her hope

Scholarship recipient says James Island Connector run brings her hope

When the bell sounds and thousands of feet hit the pavement for the annual 10K and 5K James Island Connector Run, Elena Swink will be one of those racing.

It's a race that's played huge part in her marathon called life.

"Always fight for it," said Swink. "There's always another way. Don't give up."

She has those words of encouragement now. But, it hasn't always been easy for her.

"I'm completely deaf in my right ear with a cochlear implant and I'm partially deaf in my left ear, with my hearing aid and I was actually born that way," said Swink.

The 20-year-old political science major goes to the College of Charleston and first received the Gavalas Kolanko scholarship 3 years ago.

She's now a junior and says, every year, this scholarship provides financial support. And more than that, it provides hope.

"It makes me feel very grateful and it makes me just very loved I guess," said Swink with tears in her eyes. "Because sometimes it does get scary being someone with a disability."

"She is sunshine," said Nick Gavalas, the co-founder of the foundation that provides the scholarships.

Gavalas says students like Swink are the reason the foundation started and the reason for its continued success.

"She's quite a person," said Gavalas.

For Swink, it's helped her keep going, even during the up hill battles.

"You know, you've just got to keep positive, have the faith and it gets better," said Swink.

The race is Saturday November 1st and there's still time to sign-up. For more information on the race, click here:

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