FRANKFORT, Ky. – Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, along with the Prosecutors Advisory Council (PAC), the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI) and the parents of two young overdose victims, today announced that two $1500 scholarships will be offered this school year to graduating high school students whose lives have been impacted by prescription drug abuse. The Office of the Attorney General and PAC are able to offer these scholarships thanks to the generosity of NADDI and private donations.
“I am grateful for the work my investigators, prosecutors and NADDI are doing to prevent and investigate prescription drug diversion, and I am proud in knowing that the money donated will be used to give a child affected by prescription drug abuse a second chance,” General Conway said. “The toll that the scourge of prescription painkiller abuse has taken on Kentucky families is alarming, and I refuse to lose another generation to this addiction. This money will help two young people get a fresh start and a chance at completing their college education.”
The scholarships are in memory of 19-year-old Sarah Shay and 24-year-old Michael Donta. Shay, of Morehead, Ky., died of a prescription drug overdose in 2006. Donta, of Ashland, Ky., lost his battle with prescription painkiller abuse in 2010. Sarah and Michael’s parents, Dr. Karen Shay and Mike Donta, now travel with General Conway across the state as part of his Keep Kentucky Kids Safe initiative to warn middle and high school students about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.
“I am humbled and honored that these organizations have chosen to remember my son through this scholarship,” Donta said. “Students, who have been affected by the disease of addiction, in whatever form they have faced it, deserve a second chance. This may just be the opportunity they need to make them realize that there is always hope and they can never give up.”
The Sarah Shay and Michael Donta Memorial Scholarships were created this year to help Kentucky students who have excelled in their personal and academic lives despite seeing firsthand the devastating consequences of prescription drug abuse. These students have embraced a positive lifestyle and brighter future for themselves and their families.
One “Sarah Shay Memorial Scholarship” and one “Michael Donta Memorial Scholarship” will be awarded each year to a graduating high school female and male, who meet the scholarship criteria, to put toward postsecondary education expenses. In addition to receiving funding from NADDI, the scholarships were made possible through donations from Michael and Sarah’s families.
“I have been fighting alongside General Conway to help make sure other parents across the Commonwealth don’t have to experience the reality of losing a child to prescription drug overdose,” Shay said. “There is a hole in my heart that will never heal, but there’s comfort in knowing this scholarship will help a young woman, who may have been in a situation very similar to my daughter’s, continue her education.”
Completed scholarship applications must be submitted by January 15, 2014. Recipients will be announced by the Office of the Attorney General, in conjunction with PAC and NADDI, in May of 2014.
“NADDI is happy to be a part of this very important effort,” said Paula York, president of NADDI of Kentucky. “These scholarships are not only a great way to raise awareness about the dangers of prescription drug abuse, but they will also be instrumental in helping two young adults further their education after high school.”
“I am pleased to support a program of this magnitude,” said Margaret Daniel, citizen member of PAC. “In my hometown, Eminence, this program could be vital and key to the success of our students who are dealing with difficult issues.”
Scholarship applications and eligibility requirements are available at http://ag.ky.gov/rxabuse.