2017 Andre Sobel Award Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the 2017 Andre Sobel Award! 

First Place:  Olivia Gaines

Second Place:  Patrick Hoyack, and companion writer (and brother) Casey Hoyack 

Third Place: Emily Muller 

Honorable Mentions:  Aspen Heidekrueger, Deckard Montesanto, Emily Muller,

Kathryn Nafgzer, Abby Snider and compation writer (and mother) Amy Snider 


andre-photoAndre Sobel 

Why was the Andre Sobel Award created?

Young people who are diagnosed with a life threatening illness are set off on a journey that is different from adult experience.

For a young person, peers are the most important citizens of their world, and a painful consequence of illness can be isolation from these friends, a loss which is among the harshest to bear.  They are not forgotten, but the relationships with friends become strained and many will fall silent, feeling a loss of words or afraid to say the wrong thing.

In recognition of Andre’s struggle with this challenge (that happens all too often for other young people), and to honor his memory and his love for literature and writing, the Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation offers an annual essay award for survivors of catastrophic illness.

The winning essays ultimately will be  published online and in other formats to provide a road map that will help young people communicate and “be” in this uncharted territory.  While Andre Sobel was not able to pursue his plans for college and beyond, it is the intention of the Andre Sobel Award that winners use their award funds in any way they choose to fulfill a cherished dream.