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‘Why I Love My Grandparents’ Essay Winners Announced

Eight-year-old Brayden Gerhardt of Devils Lake submitted the top entry in AARP North Dakota’s “Why I Love My Grandparents” essay contest. His entry was submitted in the 6-10 age group.

Brayden, the son of Annie and Russell Gerhardt, is a third grader at St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Devils Lake.

Jessica Vandal, 14, of Jamestown was the winner of the 11-14 age group and second overall. She is the daughter of Peggy and Stephen Vandal and a freshman at Jamestown High School.

Mitch Baesler, 18, of Mandan submitted the winning entry in the 15-18 age group and third overall. Mitch is the son of Kirsten and Lowell Baesler and a senior at Mandan High School.

The three top entries won cash prizes of $500, $250 and $100, respectively. They were presented with their awards at a Sept. 10 ceremony in Bismarck – the day before Grandparents’ Day.

“From reading the essays, children obviously receive tremendous spiritual and emotional support from their grandparents, even if they don’t live nearby. Several of the essays were very poignant. Some grandchildren wrote about the impact Alzheimer’s disease was having on their grandparent, and even though the relationship had changed, the bond is still strong,” said AARP State Director Janis Cheney.

“All of the essays conveyed the distinctive bond between grandparents and their grandchildren. As we recognize Grandparents’ Day on Sept. 11, we hope people of all ages reflect upon and celebrate the role grandparents have played in their lives.”

Here is Brayden’s winning essay:

I love my Grandpa John Gross very much and he loves me. My Grandpa was born in November 1924 in a farmhouse. He is 86-years-old. He is my Grandpa and my friend.

He is a lot like me. We both like to sing, but Grandpa can sing in German. We both like to dance, play cards, and play checkers. My Grandpa loves it when I pray. My favorite prayer is ‘Michael the Archangel.’

He likes to say hi to people and meet new people just like me. I love museums and Grandpa has a museum in Napoleon where he lives. I love my Grandpa because he went all over the world. He has been to all the states, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Washington, D.C., Rome, Canada, Mexico, Alaska, Japan, Hawaii, Italy, and Philippines. Just about everywhere. He gave me German money. I will use it when I go to Germany. I will go there when I am 19 or 20.

I love my Grandpa because he fought in the war for his family. He helped little kids. He let kids get food in the garbage cans. He was supposed to keep the Philippine kids away from the garbage cans. But they were starving. He pretended he wasn’t watching. He doesn’t like to see hungry kids.

He found my Grandma at the church. They both went to a church in the country. He knew he wanted to marry her, so he did.

He thinks it is important to stay healthy and he would like to live to be 100 years old. Then he can go to Germany with me someday.

My Grandpa, his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren are his most important things in life. I love my Grandpa and he loves me.

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