By Monica Pryts/Staff Writer
GROVE CITY —
A Grove City Senior High School student is one of 10 finalists who could win $100,000 for higher education in the Dr. Pepper Tuition Giveaway and voting continues through Dec. 17.
"Every little bit helps," said Chris Karcher, 18, a senior who has already been accepted to Edinboro University.
To enter the contest, participants had to submit one-minute videos explaining how they plan to make an impact in their community or the world with a college education.
A Dr. Pepper drinker, Karcher was already on the hunt for scholarship opportunities when he came across the contest on television, beverage packing and Fastweb, a website with scholarship resources.
His mother Sandra helped him film a video in the backyard of the family's Liberty Township home, where Karcher is flanked by a football and bottle of Dr. Pepper.
The football is a nod to the throwing contest he'll have to compete in if he's chosen as one of the top five finalists and wins a trip to the Discover BCS National Championship Game in January in Florida.
Getting there depends on online voting. He's in sixth place now and every vote counts. The video can be viewed at and voted on at drpeppertuition/com/entry/60.
People can vote for Karcher once a day at that website through Dec. 17. A bonus vote can be cast once a day on Twitter at #TutionForChris.
"He's worked really hard and we're really proud of him," Mrs. Karcher said.
Karcher's brother Cody, 19, father Victor their friends and family and even the school librarian, Laura Wienand, have also been spreading the word to help get him in the top five.
In the video clip titled "I'm a Future Computer Geek," Karcher describes how he wants to learn to create movies and games for kids with autism, a condition he was diagnosed with as a child.
He was delayed in learning and it was hard on him and his family, but got help from attending a special preschool and found it easy to learn from computers.
"Computers are predictable and I like that," Karcher said in the video, which also has childhood photos of him using computers and recent pictures of him on the high school swim team, in the school concert band - he plays mallet percussion - and in his Eagle Scout uniform.
Karcher, an honor roll student, goes on to say he has overcome many challenges with help from family, friends and therapeutic support staff.
"I hope to create things that will help kids with autism learn valuable skills," he said, adding he'll be drinking Dr. Pepper during all-nighters to help get his computer programming projects done.
Karcher also keeps busy with his family's parish, First Baptist Church of Grove City, working as a lifeguard at the Grove City YMCA, playing in the Harrisville Community Band, doing origami and volunteering with Hidden Hope, a therapeutic horseback riding program in Grove City for kids with autism and other conditions.
He found out Thanksgiving weekend he was a finalist and while he's not sure how many videos were submitted, he was excited to learn he'll receive $2,500 in tuition money no matter what.
"I was really happy," he said.
The top five finalists receiving the most votes will be flown with a guest to the bowl game. The day before they'll compete in a football-throwing contest which will narrow the finalists down to two.
Those two will compete in a pass competition the day of the game at halftime for tuition money. The winner will get $100,000; the runner-up gets $23,000; and the three other finalists receive $2,500.
It's been a few years since Karcher has tested his football skills, so he plans to practice if he makes it to the top five. He also plans to take his father to the bowl game if selected.
"It can really make a big difference. He's super excited," Mrs. Karcher said.
For more information about the contest, visit drpeppertuition.com. Voting ends Dec. 17 and must be done on a laptop or desktop computer. To vote for Chris Karcher and see his video, visit drpeppertuition.com/entry/ 60 or vote through Twitter at #TuitionForChris.
Published Dec. 8, 2012, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.