Where’s My Scholarship?

WSVN — A scholarship for college. Sweet words, and one South Florida student was smiling when she won a nice little scholarship for bowling, but eight months later she felt like she was striking out when she couldn’t collect the scholarship, which is why she called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Sharon Benkendorf: “[This is] her trophy from winning the Orange Bowl Tournament.”

If you want to make Sharon Benkendorf smile, just mention her daughter Jillian.

Sharon Benkendorf: “I am extremely proud of my daughter, and she’s accomplished so much.”

Patrick Fraser: “You’re not even blushing, and she said all that”

Jillian Benkendorf: “Yeah, cause it’s true. I can’t say that.”

Jillian is actually modest, especially about her bowling.

Jillian Benkendorf: “It just comes natural to me. I don’t even think about it. I just throw the ball.”

Jillian has been bowling since she was a child, and in youth competitions, instead of cash prizes, the young bowlers get scholarship money that’s put into what’s called a SMART Fund.

Jillian Benkendorf: “They all have SMART Funds. The USBC keeps it for you.”

In February, the Junior Orange Bowl sponsored a competition at Sawgrass Lanes in Tamarac.

Sharon Benkendorf: “She said, ‘No, I don’t think I want to do it.’ I said, ‘You’re gonna do it. You have an opportunity for a $2,000 scholarship, and that’s a pretty hefty scholarship in bowling.'”

Jillian bowled. Her description of her performance…

Jillian Benkendorf: “I thought I was doing horrible.”

But she was not doing horrible. She won her division.

Jillian Benkendorf: “And I honestly couldn’t even believe it. I didn’t even think I would place, let alone win.”

The prize that day in February: a $2,000 scholarship to be put into Jillian’s SMART Fund. Instead…

Sharon Benkendorf: “May went by, June went by. Called up again [and they told me], ‘Well, there has been a little bit of a problem,’ and never really explained what the problem was. ‘But the money will be in the SMART Fund soon.'”

It wasn’t. Sharon called Sawgrass Lanes over and over, but no scholarship.

Sharon Benkendorf: “And I don’t understand the whole particulars cause I could never get a straight answer.”

September went by. October rolled around. Jillian is now a freshman at FAU, and needs that scholarship for her next semester.

Jillian Benkendorf: “My books, my living expenses.”

Jillian won the scholarship, but she has not gotten that scholarship.

Sharon Benkendorf: “I just want them to do what’s right, and what they should have done maybe five months ago, six months ago.”

Well, Howard, when you win a scholarship from an organization, there is nothing in writing, so legally, what are the rules about getting it?

Howard Finkelstein: “The fact that there is no signed contract doesn’t matter. If you have a contest and promise a prize, you have to deliver it to the winner. It’s really that simple. And if you don’t deliver, you will be sued and you will lose.”

After I started making some calls, I discovered nothing shady was going on, just confusion. The Junior Orange Bowl sent the money to Sawgrass Lanes. At the bowling alley, they told me they were trying to put the money into an old SMART Fund and the United States Bowling Congress, or USBC, was not allowing it.

I contacted the USBC, who told me Sawgrass couldn’t use an old account and “simply needs to create a new account in SMART and deposit the funds Jillian was promised.”

I forwarded that e-mail to Sawgrass Lanes. They opened a new SMART account. Two days later, Jillian had her money.

Jillian Benkendorf: “Of course, cause now I can pay for my college next semester.”

Jillian has her scholarship, and as every student knows, every little bit helps when you have those bills to pay in college.

Jillian Benkendorf: “And if I didn’t call Help Me Howard, I wouldn’t have my money right now, and that would be bad. Wouldn’t be in college next semester.”

Glad we could help. And if you have a problem you can’t get resolved, don’t keep contacting the same person or department over and over. Do like we do: go to the top of the company. Let the big boss tell someone to solve it.

A problem bowling you over? Ready to pin down a solution? Contact us. We have time to spare, and hopefully, when we roll in, we won’t strike out.

With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.

E-mail: helpmehoward@wsvn.com (please include your contact phone number when e-mailing)
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
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