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Blind Valley student receives $25,000 scholarship

(Mark Remillard/KTAR Photo)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A Valley high school student is one of 10 students across the country to receive a total of $25,000 in scholarship money from AXA Advisors Southwest on Tuesday.

Max Ashton is a senior at Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix and was selected because of some of the incredible challenges he has overcome in his life.

"When I was three months old, I was diagnosed with a condition called Leber's," said Ashton. "Basically, that mean(s) I am almost completely blind."

Leber's -- or Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy -- has not slowed Ashton down but rather inspired him to do many things that people without disabilities rarely attempt.

When he was 13 years old, Ashton became the youngest blind person to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. He's also hiked the Grand Canyon from rim to rim and even completed a swim to Alcatraz.

Overcoming his disability to complete these challenges is part of the reason he was selected as one of 52 students nationwide to receive a scholarship of $10,000. From those 52 students, he was selected as one of 10 to be awarded an additional $15,000.

Ashton said that money will have a big impact on his future.

"It's great because it's going to help me go to the college that I want to, instead of just the one that I can afford," said Ashton.

Beginning in the fall, Ashton will take on his next big challenge of leaving home and continuing his education at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

His father, Marc, said it'll be difficult to see his son go but continuing to challenge himself has been a part of Max's personality since he was very young.

"I think he was challenged to prove to people that didn't believe. He really said, 'I could do that,'" his father said. "Even in his essay for AXA, he said, 'People didn't believe in me for many, many years and said I couldn't do things and I proved them wrong.'"

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About the Author


A southern California native, Mark Remillard began working in radio in 2010 while in community college as a host of late night and weekend programming for publicly supported 88.5 FM KSBR. While working through college, Mark also interned for the Bill Handel Radio Program at Los Angeles' KFI AM640, where he began his work in journalism. Mark moved to Arizona in August 2012 to finish his bachelor's degree at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and graduated in August 2014. Mark began working as a reporter for KTAR in November 2012.

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