Breaking Barriers essay winners announced

April 19th, 2018

At baseball's biggest jewel events this year, there will be stars of sport -- and also stars of a different sort. The names Selihom Kidane and Jesse Quist don't resonate the way those of baseball's signature stars do, but they will be recognized at the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard at National Park on July 17 and the 2018 World Series, respectively, because of the essays they wrote that capture the spirit of the trailblazing Jackie Robinson.
The 11-year-old Kidane and 15-year-old Quist were the two grand-prize winners of the 2018 Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life Essay Contest announced Thursday, which means they were the two of the 10 overall winners selected for a salute at those star-studded events. The contest encourages students from across the country to write about overcoming personal obstacles or barriers through the example set forth by Robinson, focusing on the core values of courage, teamwork, determination, persistence, integrity, citizenship, justice, commitment and excellence.
Kidane, who lives in Charlotte, N.C., wrote about her and her brother's courageous 11-month journey to escape war-torn Eritrea, Africa, and reunite with their mother in the U.S. when they were five and 11 years old, respectively.
Quist, a native of Cheyenne, Wyo., wrote about the determination and persistence he has had to exhibit after being born without fully functioning arms or hands.
Sharon Robinson, who is Jackie Robinson's daughter and the MLB Educational Programming consultant and founder of the contest, will join both youngsters when they are recognized on baseball's big stages.
"The extraordinary perseverance and inner strength that these children have demonstrated in their young lives is inspiring," Robinson said in a news release. "The winners, along with everyone who submitted essays, continue to exemplify the true meaning of the Breaking Barriers program."
In addition to Kidane and Quist, the other winners of the Breaking Barriers essay contest were:
MVP prize winners
Esme Curran, Grade 4, Oro Valley, Ariz.
Benjamin Koch, Grade 9, Scarsdale, N.Y.
All-Star prize winners
Zachary Berzanske, Grade 6, Marietta, Ga.
Nina Gonzalez, Grade 6, Chicago, Ill.
Nathaniel Heck, Grade 6, Cold Spring, Ky.
Kera Mingus, Grade 9, Forsyth, Mo.
Alissa Warren, Grade 7, Alamo, Tenn.
Rose West, Grade 8, King of Prussia, Pa.
Each of the 10 prize winners will receive a new laptop computer, courtesy of Microsoft, and additional prizes for their classes, including Breaking Barriers T-shirts and books written by Sharon Robinson. The grand prize and MVP winners get a personal visit with Robinson, as well as a Microsoft-provided laptop computer for their teachers.
Since its inception in 1997, the Breaking Barriers contest has reached more than 34 million children and 4.6 million educators in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. For more information on Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life, please visit