The Final Presentation for the 2017 Letter to My ParentsTM Contest in Chicago was held on Saturday, March 18, 2017 where eleven (11) contestants recited their letters dedicated to their parents. The Contest was organized by the Reiyukai Active Care Team (REACT) with sponsorship from BenchPrep and active support from Durango Unido en Chicago, Pilsen Wellness Center, and Reiyukai America.

The eleven contestants-Lisette Aguila, Elvis Aguilera, Timicia M. Brooks, Melissa Casimiro, Pablo Gonzalez, Michelle Hernandez, Mashawnie L. Marsaw, Joanna Medina, Nawar Mendez, Adareli P. Ojeda and Gilberto Rodriguez-presented their letters to their parents, families, the general audience and the judges at the Pilsen Wellness Center.

After the letters were read, the eleven participants received a prize of $50 along a Certificate of Participation. Each of the contestants also received a certificate for a "1 Year TestPrep Course Subscription" courtesy of BenchPrep.

Just like the previous year, the group of judges selected two award recipients who will travel to Japan as delegate members of the "Reiyukai Leadership Training" trip from April 26th to May 6th. The judges selected Mashawnie L. Marsaw and Nawar Mendez as award recipients. Elvis Aguilera was selected to receive a $300 scholarship sponsored by Durango Unido en Chicago.

The judges were Jennifer Botich, Chairperson, Department of Humanities and Sciences, American Academy of Art; Shanna Blinderman, Director of Behavioral Health Services, Pilsen Wellness Center; and Ashish Rangnekar, CEO & Co-Founder of BenchPrep.

"Hearing the many heartfelt letters from so many young people has touched the lives of both judges and family members alike. Pilsen Wellness Center is glad to have provided a community space to share these with the wider local communities long served by the organization," stated Dr. Francisco Cisneros, President and CEO of Pilsen Wellness Center.

"This contest offers a unique opportunity for participants to share and express their feelings towards their families regardless of their gender, race, ethnicity, faith, or personal backgrounds. Through the process of writing a letter, each participant begins to experience changes within. Once again, we have witnessed how a letter can bring change to a community." Tomoko Obara, representative of Reiyukai America in Chicago commented.