Congratulations to Meredith Labuda, 18, of Ballwin, Mo., recipient of the Berger and Green Heart Disease Scholarship. Meredith is a recent graduate of Parkway South High School and will attend St. Louis University this fall.
Our Heart Disease Scholarship is open to students who have suffered from heart disease or have a congenital heart defect. Meredith was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.
That means that the left side of her heart cannot pump blood into her body. She underwent major surgeries, including one as a baby, each surgery making her feel tiny and powerless, she wrote. In the midst of the poking and prodding, one group of workers offered her a respite — the nurses.
“When my nurses walked into my room, it was like the sun coming out after a rainy day,’’ she wrote. “They weren’t just staff; they were truly caregivers. They comforted me, and even my parents, and made an effort to really know us.”
Meredith wrote about refusing to consider a medical career most of her childhood until she took a human anatomy class in high school. These days, she is excited about pursuing a career as a pediatric nurse.
Meredith’s physical difficulties have not slowed her down. She was the student speaker at her high school graduation, graduated with honors, and held down several part-time jobs, including being a barista. She was selected by her high school to attend the 2017 Presidential inauguration and embark on a two-week trip through Rome, Normandy, and Paris honoring the U.S. World War II military forces on the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
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Tackling a major medical condition requires a group effort, and Meredith gives a special acknowledgment to her parents. Brian and Christine Labuda, she says, always made sure that she had the best medical insurance possible, carefully considering health benefits before they took new jobs. Meredith is also a big sister to Lucie Labuda, 14.
At Berger and Green, we have been committed to helping people with disabilities for more than 40 years. We know that heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We know that children facing heart disease or heart conditions have a hard path to follow. That’s why we’ve awarded annual $1,000 scholarships to deserving students like Meredith since 2017.
Watch Meredith’s interview and read her heartwarming essay here.