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Wrongly Imprisoned Missouri Man to Inspire Children of Jailed Parents

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SOURCE Ava’s Grace Scholarship Foundation

ST. LOUIS, July 22, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Recently freed Ryan Ferguson, who served 10 years in prison for a murder he did not commit, will be the keynote speaker Saturday, July 26 at the 3rd Annual Ava's Grace Scholarship Awards ceremony for children of incarcerated parents.

The ceremony will take place from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, July 26 at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, 975 Warson Road in St Louis.

Ferguson, who was set free last year after a judge found he was wrongly convicted for the murder of a Columbia newspaper editor, will speak with scholarship recipients about his story and how it should inspire students with challenges never to give up.

"We all have different stories, but one thing is true for everyone:  Every one of us deserves a chance to become the person we dream to be," Ferguson said. "Whether it's being wrongly convicted or overcoming the challenges of having a parent in prison, we can't let the obstacles stop us from pushing forward for a more promising future."

Four high school seniors, all of whom have had a parent in jail, will receive scholarships at the ceremony from Ava's Grace Scholarship Foundation, a St. Louis-based nonprofit organization founded by Stephanie Regagnon, the daughter of a woman who was incarcerated for four years for alleged arson.  As of Saturday, the organization has awarded scholarships of more than $64,000 to students from around Missouri.

"When I used to visit my mom in prison, I met a lot of younger kids visiting their parents," said Regagnon, who founded Ava's Grace in 2010. "When I had a daughter of my own, Ava, I knew I wanted to help give them a chance to become more than a statistic and to find a different path."

Winners are chosen based on academic promise, financial need and community service or work experience. This year's recipients include Kaytlynn Garretson of Stockton, who wants to be a teacher; Sep'Tisha (Tish) Riley, a 4.0 student from Vashon High School; Aliyah Wilson of Crossroads College Preparatory School, who wants to help underrepresented children interested in STEM; and Maxwell Rose of Winfield, who, according to this teacher, will "change the world."

For more information about the winners or Ava's Grace, call 314.471.8408 or visit avasgrace.org.

Stephanie Regagnon 314.471.8408 or steph@avasgrace.org

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