"I have cancer."
The three words that change so many lives indefinitely.
The three words that, in 2009, changed my world forever.
I grew up in a typical working class household. We didn't have a lot of money. Both of my parents worked multiple jobs but for the most part, life was okay.
By the time I was 14 years old, I was interested in getting my own job and began as a physical therapy aid. Later I became a nursing assistant and worked with Alzheimers and dementia patients.
Though I enjoyed my first two jobs, I knew I wanted more and after graduating high school, attended the University of New England to major in Exercise Science.
I opened the doors of Spurling Fitness shortly after graduation and we have been changing lives ever since.
I've been fortunate, whether working in fitness or in the nursing home, to always be in a job that I would consider to be a "helping profession."
Little did I know how much my experience would be put to the test.
On a random Saturday in October, I drove home from UNE to have dinner with my parents. I walked into their house and a chill just came through my bones. I knew something was up.
I sat down at the dining room table and my mom started crying. After fighting back the tears, she spits out...
"I have cancer."
The next six months were torture as I watched her battle stage four lung cancer. While finishing my degree at UNE I was also traveling back and forth to Massachusetts to see my mom in the hospital and do everything I could to help my dad and younger brother as well.
Talk about a life-changing point in life...
On June 14, 2010, in a hospice house, I held my mom’s hand and watched her take her last breath.
She was 52 years old.
As a kid in high school and college, you don't realize the impact your parents have on you.
You think you're super cool, invincible, and that life will always be smooth.
I wasn't super close with my mom growing up, and probably had the typical "rebel" teenager mindset, but after she passed, she changed my life.
You don't realize just how much impact one person can have on you, and how much you can learn from them.
Every ounce of motivation I have for the Spurling Community of Businesses is partly fueled by my mom's legacy, as I learned so many life lessons from her even after her death.
Everything we do with the Spurling Foundation, Spurling Fitness and the rest of the Spurling Community is to help people.
Helping might include getting people healthier, fostering relationships and community, or supporting them as they pursue their dreams.
It's in the spirit of that last part, pursuing dreams, that I am honored to present the Michelle Spurling Memorial Scholarship.
The Spurling Foundation presents this scholarship to support students in the Kennebunk Community planning to pursue a career in a “helping profession” which nurtures the growth of, or addresses the problems of a person's physical, psychological, intellectual, emotional or spiritual well-being i.e. medicine, nursing, fitness, psychology, counseling, social work.
Priority will be given to students demonstrating financial need. Applicants should also demonstrate a commitment to his or her own personal health and wellness, be actively involved in their school and community, and have a passion for improving the lives of others.
To apply for this scholarship, please submit a two-minute video telling us about your yourself and why you want to pursue a career in a helping profession. Please speak to your community service and how you feel you go above and beyond to help others.
Submit the video and a common application (provided by the school) via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org