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Unexpected gift for Hermantown senior, coping with father’s COVID-19 battle

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HERMANTOWN, MN -- November 17th, 2020, is a day the Gray family won't forget.

On that day, 17-year-old Addison Gray learned her father's battle against COVID-19 was taking a turn for the worse.

The Hermantown High senior spent much of the holidays on the phone with her father's doctors.

"We had the talks about his will and all that stuff, so that was a lot to deal with in the midst of finals and holiday season coming up," Addison said.

Kevin Gray, St. Louis County administrator, spent 26 days in the hospital fighting COVID-19.

He was unable to have visitors.

They were not sure he if was going to make it.

"I wasn't as much worried about me, but I wanted them to have their dad for a little bit longer, and selfishly, I wanted to be part of their lives for a while too," Kevin said. "I didn't want to burden them with not being here."

Moments after being told her father had been moved to the ICU, Addison's phone rang again.

"So, I was crying, I was just super worried about that, and then I got another call from an unknown number," Addison said. "It was like, 'Hi, is this Addison Gray? This is U.S. Bank. You just won our $10,000 scholarship.' And I was like, 'What?'"

The scholarship is from the U.S. Bank's financial education program.

Addison had only applied for it one week prior.

For this family, the scholarship is a gift of more than just money.

"It took me completely out of thinking about COVID for a little bit, and so that was an added bonus," Kevin said.

After graduating high school in the spring, Addison wants to use the money to get her nursing degree at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

She wants to make a difference in people's lives just like her father's nurses did for him.

"Especially right now, nobody can be there with them," Addison said. "It was horrible when my dad was there, but knowing he had these support, these doctors, and these amazing nurses that were with him all the time, it was really comforting."

Kevin is now home and recovering.

This father-daughter duo is counting their blessings, and they are not taking anything for granted.

"How lucky I am, in a lot of different senses, I just keep saying I'm lucky enough to have my dad, lucky enough to get this scholarship and stuff," Addison said.

U.S. Bank has given more than $500,000 in scholarships to students during the past two decades.

Click here to access the applications for 2021 scholarships are now open.

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Kendall Jarboe

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