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Walter Panas Grads Receive Scholarship From 'This Is Me'

Peekskill's Brady sisters pose at the This Is Me Scholarship Awards ceremony earlier this month. From left to right are Caitlin Brady, Nosazena Iyekegbe, Cynthia Vele and Lauren Brady.
Peekskill's Brady sisters pose at the This Is Me Scholarship Awards ceremony earlier this month. From left to right are Caitlin Brady, Nosazena Iyekegbe, Cynthia Vele and Lauren Brady. Photo Credit: Courtesy This Is Me Foundation

PEEKSKILL, N.Y. -- Peekskill's Caitlin and Lauren Brady are inviting residents to their home this Sunday for fun, music and games but the sisters are hoping people leave with hope for people like themselves living with alopecia.

The sisters, Peekskill natives, are hosting the summer fundraiser from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday for their organization known as the " This is Me Foundation ," which was created to raise awareness about alopecia. The Brady sisters were both diagnosed with alopecia in their teens and founded "This Is Me" following the creation of a YouTube video encouraging people to embrace what makes them unique . Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss.

The Sunday fundraiser is the second the sisters will host in their home and while the recommended donation is $25, Lauren Brady said the event is more about spreading awareness and hope than trying for an arbitrary dollar amount.

"This event is so emotional and brings people together and gets them excited about what we're doing and for me it's far more important that people get involved in our cause," Brady said. "I'd rather have someone get involved and spread the word of what we're doing than to give us money."

The This is Me Foundation recently presented six scholarship awards including Peekskill High School graduate Nosazena Iyekegbe and Walter Panas High School graduates Jessica Montanez  and Corey Dean earlier this month. The awards were vital for the sisters to give back to the community, Brady said.

“Last year we were excited to be able to award two scholarships to students from our hometown, and now to be able to triple that and expand our reach beyond the local community is beyond our dreams,” Lauren Brady said. “The generosity of our friends, family and strangers are what make this possible, and we are so grateful for their support of our mission.”

This weekend's fundraiser and carnival will help the Bradys raise money for scholarships and similar programs in the future.

"The scholarships were great but it wouldn't be possible without this weekend," Lauren Brady said. "This foundation is about something bigger than just giving out scholarships. We're trying to raise awareness for something people know very little about."

Brady has lived and worked in the Peekskill community for years, but few knew she had to wear a wig to hide her alopecia.

"People know me in the community, but they don't know about this," she said. "That's why raising awareness and that hope for people with alopecia is so important. They need to know they're not alone and that there is support here."

For more information about the This Is Me Foundation, the College Scholarship Fund and the annual summer fundraiser, residents are asked to visit the group's website .

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