Scholarship Winners!

Meet our deserving winners, read their bios and leave a few words of encouragement.

= multi-year scholarships awarded!

Hannah Kuykendall

Lake Region High School


Warner University

2022 AAO Scholarship Winner

By age 3 we know all 26 letters of the alphabet, by age 12 the letter S meant a whole lot more to me. As I’m writing this even autocorrect finds disgrace in the word parent without an S at the end. The little red line under the word parent taunts me. Society has taught us that happiness is 4 people standing in front of a white picket fence with smiles on their faces and not a care in the world, that could not be farther from the truth.

In 2016, I lost my father to a very long battle with drug addiction. Growing up, my dad was my hero until the day he wasn’t. Drugs grabbed ahold of not only the life of my father but my mother and I as well taking us for an unimaginable loop, opening my eyes to the evils of this world at such a young age. I spent so many days, so many weeks, and so many months asking god “Why me? Why my family? WHY GOD? WHY?” Crying out in prayer day after day night after night, he spoke into me and he told me this is only a bump in your journey, shaping you into the person you are going to be.

When life throws an unimaginable tragedy at you, you have to decide whether to grab ahold of your bootstraps and keep on marching or to lay down and drown in the waves of your own self-pity. So, I decided to grab ahold of my boot strap and keep pushing no matter the circumstance. Soccer was my saving grace. I threw myself into training, practices, and different teams to fill the empty holes inside of me. Everyone has a coping mechanism and mine was soccer. I watched my mom day in and day out of my entire childhood work to support me on her own, never letting me go without and always pushing me to be the best me that I could possibly be at my sport while still be the most selfless and helpful person. Through all that she has done for me I don’t think that she ever realized that the person I am is because of the person she is. She paid for every team fee, every new pair of cleats, and every little thing I may have needed to be the best I could be. ALL while supporting me entirely on her own. Her undeniable hard work and drive throughout loss and tragedy has shown me that no matter what I go through and no matter the loss I experience my hard work and drive is what will keep me afloat in this life and help me reach the goals I have always strived for, and that is what has made me so determined in my sport.

Watching my father, a man who stood so strong in his faith, struggle and fail so miserably with addiction and his own mental health, has pushed me every day to better myself and others in life. I find peace in having a sport that has kept me healthy and happy and somewhat away from all the evils of the world. We all have our own personal struggles that no one knows about that shapes our personalities and who we are going to be, and through all of that we must keep going and find ways to cope.  I have used the loss and tragedy in my young life to create knowledge and opportunities for myself. I have taken the hurt and pain and put it into the love of my game.  Standing strong in my faith and believing in myself throughout everything I have been through, has taught me I can be the best at my sport as long as I push myself to be the best.

The death of my father pushed me to be the student, athlete and overall human I am today. The loss that I have experienced has taught me so many lessons in my young life and shown me who I want to be and taught me how to become that person. I do not want to be the girl with the sob story about her dead dad who never recovered. I want to be the girl that lost her dad but took all that pain and tragedy and turned it into an amazing life that she is proud of. I have kept pushing all these years because the tunnel of blood, sweat, and tears will all be worth it when I reach the light.


6750 Crescent Woods Circle

Lakeland FL 33813

CELL:  863.557.6143