ORLANDO, Fla. (PRWEB) May 4, 2006
The most influential person in Melissa Brown’s life is her younger brother Josh. Her heartfelt tribute to Josh, who has Down syndrome, was selected by judges as the grand prize winner in the 10th-annual Olive Garden Pasta Tales national essay writing contest.
Brown is a 10th grade student at Cornerstone High School in Philadelphia, and her winning essay was chosen from nearly 11,000 entries written by students in first through 12th grade who were asked to “Describe how a person or experience has made an important impact on your life.”
In her essay, Brown describes the many lessons she has learned from Josh. “The main thing he’s taught me is not to judge a book by its cover. I need to look inside a person and find out what they’re like inside before I make assumptions,” Brown wrote. “Josh has made me sensitive to people who are less fortunate than I am. I’ve also learned to not take life so seriously … Josh is one of those people who finds pleasure in the little things. He is an adorable little 11-year-old who is bounding with energy and love.”
Brown’s essay was “strong on creativity, organization and writing, with excellent word choices and descriptions about the qualities that make Josh the unique individual he is,” noted one of the judges from the Quill and Scroll Society of the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Iowa who read the essays.
As the Pasta Tales grand prize winner, Brown receives a $2,500 U.S. Savings Bond, a trip with her family to New York City and dinner at the Olive Garden in Times Square.
Olive Garden also announced a winner in each of 12 grade categories. Those winners each receive a $500 U.S. Savings Bond and dinner with their family at their local Olive Garden:
Grade 1: Madison Lambert, Mississippi
Grade 2: Katarina Postl, South Dakota
Grade 3: Nathan Papp, Illinois
Grade 4: Ryan Boyle, New York
Grade 5: Kristina Toro, New York
Grade 6: Bailey Nelson, California
Grade 7: Leo Traub, New York
Grade 8: Meraaj Haleem, Illinois
Grade 9: Jodi Salant, New Jersey
Grade 10: John Slack, Ohio
Grade 11: Jesse Milligan, New York
Grade 12: Alyson Stokes, Mississippi
“Melissa’s essay was very moving and captured what family means for so many of us – love, acceptance and learning from one another,” said Steve Coe, spokesperson for Olive Garden. “From tributes to family and friends to descriptions of life-changing experiences, all of these young writers demonstrated great depth in their ability to effectively convey personal feelings through writing.”
Olive Garden’s Pasta Tales is designed to encourage young writers to express themselves and improve their writing skills. Entries were judged on creativity, adherence to theme, organization, grammar, punctuation and spelling by Olive Garden and the Quill and Scroll Society at the University of Iowa.
The question for the 2007 Pasta Tales essay contest will be announced in August. Entry forms and complete rules will be available at local Olive Garden restaurants and online at http://www.olivegarden.com/company/community/pasta_tales.asp from Oct. 2 through Dec. 1.
Olive Garden is the leading restaurant in the Italian dining segment with 575 restaurants, 70,000 employees and more than $2 billion in annual sales. Olive Garden is a division of Darden Restaurants Inc. (NYSE:DRI), the world’s largest casual dining company. Visit Olive Garden’s Web site at http://www.olivegarden.com.
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NOTE TO EDITORS: Essays are available upon request.