Scholarship to commemorate ALS student

2024-07-08 12:10:37China Daily Editor : Mo Honge ECNS App Download

A university in Chongqing recently set up a scholarship in the name of a student who died of a motor neuron disease to encourage young people to learn from his fighting spirit.

Deng Xiansong, 22, who began studying economics at Southwest University of Political Science and Law in 2021, died in April due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a rare, incurable neurodegenerative disorder often referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease.

"Deng remained strong and faced the possibility of sudden death with a smile, never giving up on his pursuit of academic excellence," the president of the university, Lin Wei, said at its graduation ceremony late last month. "While suffering immense pain, he continued to study diligently and achieved outstanding grades."

With the consent of Deng's parents, the university foundation has established the Xiansong Perseverance Award in his name.

"The university will never give up on, nor forget, any student who loves life and strives for excellence," Lin said. "This award embodies our spirit of resilience and unity."

The details of the award are still being worked out, the university said.

Deng was born in Chongqing's Yuzhong district in 2002. He was diagnosed with ALS at age 3, lost the ability to walk at 10 and spent the rest of his days relying on the use of a special wheelchair.

The disease also deformed his spine and fingers, so he could only write with his right index finger.

But he never gave up his studies. With the help of his school and family, Deng took the national college entrance examination — known as the gaokao — in 2021 and scored 592 out of a possible 750 points.

A cheerful and confident young man, he loved singing and watching sports such as basketball, tennis, billiards and curling.

During his time at the university, Deng received a lot of support from faculty and students. His classmates carried him to the classrooms every day, and many alumni donated money to his family.

After his death, his parents returned the remaining 3,300 yuan ($454) of alumni donations to the university.

"Actually, we didn't set very high academic expectations for him because of his health condition, but he consistently set high standards for his own academic performance and stuck to his goals," his father, Deng Jun, said. "He had a wish to give back to society, to his teachers and to his classmates.

"We hope to realize his unfinished dream by setting up this award and encourage every SWUPL student."

ALS is a rare disease with a grim prognosis, with patients typically surviving only three to five years after diagnosis. There are estimated to be roughly 200,000 ALS patients in China, according to Xinhua News Agency.

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