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Temple University journalism student Jessica “Jessie” Beth Schwartz received a heart transplant 20 years ago after 14 years of suffering from congenital heart disease. She passed in 2003 at the age of 23, just shy of receiving her degree.

On Sun., Sept. 14th, the 12th annual Jessie’s Day “Give the Gift of Scholarship” event takes place at Urban Saloon in Fairmount, a benefit for the Jessica Beth Schwartz Memorial Scholarship, which is led by her mother, Janice Schwartz-Donahue. They annually award four $2,500 grants to transplant recipients to help them complete college the way Jessica so desperately wanted to. Over the past 11 years, the scholarship fund has awarded more than $100,000 to over 40 college-bound transplant recipients.

“Jessica dreamed big. In the eight years following her heart transplant, completing her education and receiving a degree in journalism became priority because she was passionate about sharing her story with others,” her mother said. “When she died in 2003, we had the opportunity to keep her spirit and love of learning alive by creating this unique scholarship. Jessie’s life ended too soon, [but] her legacy continues through helping others like her reach their goals.”

Her story’s caught on. Actor Guillermo Diaz, the “Scandal” star and generally one of the coolest dudes in Hollywood at the moment, caught wind of Jessica’s dream and has been sharing the scholarship fund’s mission however he can. His efforts may have something to do with how the event on Fairmount Ave. will silent auction/raffle off $8,000 worth of gifts and prizes, which will include a signed script from the Kerry Washington-led ABC smash television hit. There will also be a limited edition Dom Streater scarf and a Sandals Resorts vacation package for the taking.

The whole thing’s hosted by the charismatic and charming Mike Jerrick, a longtime fixture of Good Day Philadelphia on Fox 29 (Remember when he and co-host Sheinelle Jones lost it interviewing Ryan Lochte?). Your $40-$45 (advance vs. at the door) ticket will get you food and drink and entertainment by The Sermon! and Brian LaPann. Funds raised will go toward the scholarship fund and raising awareness of tissue and organ donation, which aligns with the mission statement of the organization Jessie’s Day honors: the Gift of Life Donor Program.

“Transplant recipients can face a host of logistical and financial difficulties and often struggle to balance their medical expenses and their dreams to live a life not determined by their medical conditions,” says Laura Schwartz, Jessie’s sister and the co-founder of the JBS Memorial Scholarship. “These students are unique [and] they’ve received a second chance at life and we went to help them thrive!”

This event just looks awesome and full of lifeā€”much like Jessica before her distressed heart took her life. So plan to c’mon out and spend a couple Jacksons for a truly wonderful cause.

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