As students are returning to schools across the nation, The ALS Association is proud to announce the award of $500,000 in scholarships to 100 students for the 2021-2022 school year through The Jane Calmes ALS Scholarship Fund. Established in 2019, the fund was created to support post-high school education for students whose lives have been impacted by ALS. Since its inception, we have awarded $1,195,000 in 239 scholarships for students nationwide who are pursuing an accredited college degree or vocational certificate.
Mark Calmes, member of The ALS Association’s National Board of Trustees, started the scholarship fund in honor of his late wife, Jane, who fought ALS for eight years and passed away in August 2017. “The financial burden of ALS is devastating to families, and kids are all too often collateral damage. The disease forces many students to delay their education so they can pitch in as caregivers, while others lose the financial ability to attend school altogether,” said Mark. “I’m very pleased the fund is able to help some of these students get back on the education path that was disrupted by ALS.”
Throughout September we have been highlighting some of this year’s scholarship recipients. We recently talked with Kaiden Anderson to learn a little more about his personal connection to ALS, what receiving the scholarship means to him, and his future plans in healthcare.
The Jane Calmes ALS Scholarship Fund was established to help people who have been impacted by ALS pursue their education. What is your personal connection to ALS?
My mom passed away from ALS in 2016 after battling the disease for two years.
It’s estimated that more than 60 percent of people don’t know what ALS is. What do you wish people knew about the disease?
When I tell people that my mom had ALS, the first thing that usually comes to their mind is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Beyond this, however, they typically know little to nothing about the disease itself and the people affected by it. I wish more people knew about how dramatically ALS disrupts the lives and mental health of families around the world because of the constant attention it demands. In every waking moment, families affected by ALS are thinking about how to deal with the impending death of their loved one, their increasing loss of independence, and the piling expenses associated with their care. When you’re under all of that stress, it can be easy to get overwhelmed and isolate yourself from your friends and family. However, if you know a family dealing with an ALS diagnosis, you can help lighten the load in so many different ways. You can offer to cook them a meal once a week, spend time with the ALS patient, drive their kids to school, etc. You can make a difference in how ALS affects a family just by being there to support them in their time of need.
How will the Jane Calmes ALS Scholarship Fund impact your future?
The Jane Calmes ALS Scholarship Fund will help to ease the financial burden of college and medical school so I can focus more on my studies and less on counting my pennies.
What are you planning to study and why?
I am currently a junior Biology major at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and I am planning to attend medical school after graduating from college. My experience as a caregiver for my mom showed me that healthcare really has the power to change lives and I cannot think of a more rewarding field. There is truly no better use of my time than devoting my life to helping others, especially those affected by a neurodegenerative disease.
What do you like to do when you aren’t in school?
I like to spend time with my friends and family, knit for charity, run, and play guitar!
Is there anything else you would like to share?
My Instagram handle is @kryptongalaxy if you’d like to follow me on my journey to medical school and beyond!
Special thanks to Kaiden Anderson for allowing us to share his story with the ALS community. To learn more about some of our Jane Calmes ALS Scholarship Fund recipients, follow our blog HERE.
More About Jane Calmes:
The Jane Calmes ALS Scholarship Fund honors Jane’s courageous spirit, her love of family, and her belief in the importance of education.
Jane Calmes was born in Coffeyville, Kansas, and spent her youth in Neodesha, Kansas. She attended Kansas University and later graduated Magna Cum Laude from Wichita State University in 1980 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Science/Dental Hygiene. Jane was an accomplished dental hygienist and loved working with the public, all the while providing a necessary service with gentle thoroughness, for which she was noted. She married Mark Calmes in 1980 and together they had four children.
Jane was also an ALS hero, having fought the disease for eight years through pure grit and determination. Early on in her journey with ALS, the family formed a very successful Walk to Defeat ALS® team in her honor named Jane’s Angels, which continues today. Jane passed away peacefully at home on August 16, 2017, in the arms of her husband and surrounded by her loving family.