Laurie Bereza Memorial Scholarship

“I would love a cure, let’s go for it. But in the meantime, let’s make people who are suffering have an easier life. Don’t push everything else aside for a cure, we can do more than that. Some people can work on a cure, some people can work on taking stresses out of people’s lives.”

It’s these words from Trey Hart that make him the inaugural winner of the Laurie Bereza Memorial Scholarship.

Today is the 2-year anniversary of the death of my sister and to honor her, Do The Next Good Thing is starting a scholarship that will always go to a student aiming to change the world.

Trey is not just looking the change the world. But his world too.

He was diagnosed as a Type 1 Diabetic when he was 4 years old. His older brother was diagnosed when he was one. It’s been all he’s known since he could walk.

“For me it’s normal now, I’ve had It forever. Every three days I have to change my set, which is a little patch with a little piece of plastic on it. I have to change it, put my insulin in. I have to check myself with a pricker 7 times a day to make sure my blood sugar is in line. It’s a nuisance, but it’s one of those things I have to do, so I get it done and carry on about my day.”

Last summer Trey entered a research program through Troy High that changed his perspective on what he wanted to do with his life. He’s been studying- while in high school- the effects that the Coxsackie Virus has on people becoming diabetic. Lots of large words were thrown around, something you aren’t accustomed to hearing when you talk to a 17-year-old getting ready to graduate.

“I always wanted to change things in some way,” he says. “Before I wanted to be an architect and design buildings I could point at and say that’s my building. But then I started shifting more towards helping people and decided maybe I would be a doctor, and that’s when I started shifting towards the research side.”

Trey has fallen in love with the facilities at Syracuse University and is mentally gearing up for the long road ahead. What he wants to do in life requires a full doctorate.

“I’m going to major in biology,” he says. “I would like to become an endocrinologist and enter the research field. I really want to get into is the research side to figure out how I can make people’s lives better that suffer from this disease.”

My friend Jill is Trey’s mom. I’ve known Jill for a few years now, she’s a key cog in the machine that is Slidin’ Dirty. She beams with pride talking about Trey.  

 “It’s the long haul, that’s a lot school,” says mom. “If anyone has it in them it’s Trey. He’s persevered his entire life. I’m super excited for him, but nervous. He’s my baby and he’s going away.”

“There’s so much pride, it’s indescribable,” she continues. “Anything he sets his heart to he’s been able to conquer, no matter what. This is something he really wants to do and I’m just…. So… proud.”

As she wipes tears away from her eyes she talks about how Trey is wired differently and ready to just go for it, which is always something she has struggled with. Trey politely interrupts his mom and asks if he can tell a story. He recounts an anecdote she told him when he was 12. She was ready to leave for an internship with Disney, but she needed to fly. Anxiety took over and at the last minute she backed out. She calls it “a missed opportunity” when Trey tells the story. But maybe it isn’t. Maybe it’s something that happened many years ago designed only to lift Trey up as he grew.

“If you don’t want it, you’re not going to have it,” he says of his drive. “It’s plain and simple just like that. If you sit there and think about why something can’t happen, it won’t happen, you’ll never get there. I sit there and I know it’s going to be a challenge, but I know I can get it done. It’s a focus. If you have it, and the drive, you’ll get to it.”

Mom has tears again, but manages to get this out:

“I’ve always pushed on the kids to be confident. To value to what you do. To know your worth. And to never settle.”

And it’s Trey that brings it home.

“Even if I have anxiety,” he says… “I sit in it and overcome it because I don’t want to miss what could be an incredible experience. The way she described it just made it sound like it was the worst thing that ever happened. I don’t want to miss opportunities.”

I’m smiling from ear to ear as I ask him where he is in 30 years. What has he done?

“My continuous glucose monitor doesn’t have any plastic at all, it’s just a patch. It monitors your blood sugar level and tells you if it’s going high or low. Right now it’s a hunk of plastic and it’s uncomfortable. It just sits there. Plastic on plastic on plastic. My plan is have the piece of fabric, no needles needed, to read your blood sugar. Make people’s lives better.”

He glances down at the table and I ask him about his tattoo. He runs through every part of it, talking with pride about the disease that could have crushed him.

“There’s a spot on there for the date when the cure is found,” he says smiling.

I tell Trey what I’m planning as it surrounds my sister. We are going to raise money for him via the Internet and anyone that wants to contribute will be entered into a drawing for a free trip to Hawaii. I think Laurie would’ve liked Trey.

“Holy s---, excuse my language,” he laughs as mom stares at him. “That’s amazing.”

And so here we go Do The Next Good Thing family. What can we raise to help a kid that is solely intent on changing the world? I’m in for $1,000… the rest is up to you!

I’ll let Jill close this out parent style.

“Do you want to know what’s really going through my head? My second job and third job and maybe my fourth job. I’m focused on how we will get it done. I will do whatever it takes to make sure that he goes and chases his dreams. I’m not worried that he won’t put forth the effort. I know he will finish. Whether it’s $70,000, $20,000, or $170,000, he’s going to Syracuse, he’s going to change the world and I’m going to help.”

Donations

  • Anonymous 
    • $400 
    • 24 mos
  • Kristie Polito 
    • $25 
    • 26 mos
  • Tammie Donnelly 
    • $25 
    • 26 mos
  • Kathleen Breslin  
    • $25 
    • 27 mos
  • Amy Facca 
    • $50 
    • 27 mos
See all

Organizer

Jeffrey Buell 
Organizer
Schenectady, NY
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