(Photo top right and left
by Jason Hanna/Kansas City Royals)

Two seventh graders from the Diocese of Kansas City, Kansas are the grand prize winners in Vitae Foundation’s “Champions for Life” Essay Contest.  Ava Teply, a student at Christ the King Catholic School in Topeka, Kan., claimed the top grand prize.  Julia Balinoof Olathe, Kan., and a student at Prince of Peace Catholic School, claimed the second grand prize.

In addition to receiving four Dugout tickets, Teply threw out a ceremonial first pitch before the start of the July 24 Kansas City Royals game against the Detroit Tigers.  Balino’s prize included tickets, being on the field for batting practice, a radio booth visit, and a stadium tour.  The essay contest was one component of the 2018 partnership between Vitae and the Kansas City Royals. Another component includes Vitae radio ads, one voiced by Royals Hall of Famer Mike Sweeney, running on the Royals Radio Network throughout the 162-game season.

Vitae’s essay contest engaged seventh graders from both the Kansas City, Kansas Archdiocese and the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese in the discussion of “Encouraging A Culture of Life.”  Teply’s essay was titled We Are the Voice of the Baby,” while Balino’s essay was titled I Love You, Mommy.” The principal and teacher of the grand prize winner were awarded tickets to the All-Star Suite at the July 24 game.  Carol Stephens, a teacher at Christ the King Catholic School and the school’s principal, Relynn Reynoso were awarded this honor.

“We were thrilled with over 600 participants this year.  The essays of the top finalists were exceptional,” Vitae’s Senior Market Director Anne Carmichael stated.  The agreement with the Royals allowed Vitae to give four tickets to the first 110 participants. 

Julia with cousins John Paul and Jayncho, and mother Ofelia.