Rangers great Adam Graves surprises 3 students with scholarships

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(PIX11)– Former New York Ranger Adam Graves surprised three students with scholarships from Garden of Dreams Foundation.

Garden of Dreams is a non-profit organization that works with the Madison Square Garden Company to help youth facing obstacles. The foundation works with 25 partner organizations throughout the tri-state area to help kids who are facing challenges such as homelessness, extreme poverty and foster care.

Garden of Dreams made the announcement Wednesday morning as an important part of their New Giving Program, where 12 tri-state area children will be rewarded with scholarships worth $10,000 a year.

Gabrielle K. Piela, Zachary Wisz and K’Von Jones were all awarded Wednesday with scholarships.

Gabrielle K. Piela
Gabby is currently a senior at Glen Rock High School in New Jersey and came to the Garden of Dreams through partner organization the Starlight Children’s Foundation. When Gabby was in the sixth grade, she was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis and the condition kept her from doing any physical activities such as sports, running and dancing, which she had a passion for. It couldn’t stop her from singing though, which she did proudly last year at the annual Garden of Dreams Talent Show at Radio City Music Hall.

She will be attending Fordham University next year where she’ll be studying sociology. She has always had an interest in finding out why people behave the way they do. Gabby would like to explore the traits that make criminals different from everyone else and the things that contribute to those traits. Her hope is to make a discovery that would bring a chance in the field and set a precedent for future case studies that could help people live a crime free and fulfilling life.

She has been on the honor roll every semester of high school and takes numerous AP courses throughout her schedule. She has participated in all of her school’s theater productions, sits on the year book committee, serves on the theater company executive board and sings in two school select choirs. Along with being an excellent student, she is also active in her community as she participates in the CYO Council at her church and does weekly volunteer work though the Bergen County Youth and Family Services organization.

Zachary Wisz
Zachary is currently graduating as a home schooled student and came to the Garden of Dreams through partner organization Hackensack University Medical Center. Zachary has been a patient at the hospital since birth, dealing with Fanconi Aanemia, which required him to receive a bone marrow transplant at the age of 4. Zachary was born without thumbs and without some bones in his ears, but this did not stop him from his love of music. Zachary did an amazing performance of Maroon 5’s “Sunday Morning” at the Garden of Dreams Talent Show in 2013.

Zachary plans to start out at a community college before transferring to a university where he hopes to focus on his two favorite arts, music and film. He has written and recorded original music and hopes to continue to grow in this field, while also learning more about script writing. He recently started to perform at a local nursing home to brighten the residences day.

Zachary is the youngest of a large family and he’s an enormous help with his oldest brother Mark who has Cerebral Palsy. Since Zachary was homeschooled, he was able to help Mark with his personal care and at his appointments. He is Mark’s companion whenever the family goes on vacation. His relationship with his brother motivated Zachary to spend his last three summers assisting disabled adults at an overnight camp he has attended since childhood.

K’Von Jones
K’Von is currently a senior at Baldwin High School in Long Island and came to the Garden of Dreams through partner organization Sunrise Day Camp. In 2010, K’Von’s younger brother Karon was diagnosed with brain cancer at 10-years-old. He would help his family out by caring for his two younger sisters while his brother was taken to medical appointments, as well as supporting his brother who he calls his hero.

K’Von wants to major in engineering next year when he attends SUNY Buffalo. He would like to focus in alternative energy and hopes to find a career in that field. He understands that the world’s main energy sources are nonrenewable and that we are in great need for more energy sources that can be replaced naturally like water, solar and wind.

He is able to hold a 4.0 GPA while still challenging himself academically across all disciplines. He has a demanding class schedule which includes AP classes. As a freshman, when an elective couldn’t fit in his schedule, he opted to work as a student helper instead of taking a free period. K’Von devotes his spare time in extra-curricular activities that make a difference. He attended Sunrise Day Camp, which is a camp for children who suffer from cancer and for their siblings. He has since went back as a counselor to help the children in need.