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Pictured left to right: Erik Gaikowski AARP South Dakota, Ben and Lacy Kading, Award Winner Paisly Kading, Frank Conway (Paisly’s Grandfather), and Donna Fischer, SDSRP.
AARP South Dakota

5th Grader From Rapid City Wins Statewide Essay Contest

SIOUX FALLS, SD— AARP South Dakota is excited to congratulate our 2024 South Dakota Grandparent Essay Award Winner, Paisly Kading, a fifth grader from Rapid City.

Paisly was recognized this week at the South Dakota Retired School Personnel (SDRSP) Convention held in Watertown, S.D. She wrote her winning essay, The Kindest Heart, about her late Grandmother, Kimberly Conway.

The essay described how Paisly saw her Grandmother “spread kindness like wildfire” with a smile compared to the warmth of the sun.

“One example,” wrote Paisly, “is she wouldn’t let anyone enter or exit her home without a hug and an ‘I love you.’”

She continued the essay with details about the smell of her Grandmother’s freshly baked cookies, how she was the “taste-tester” when Grandma cooked and how they would twirl around the kitchen singing songs. She said her Grandmother was like the “peanut butter to my jelly.”

“She had a secret ingredient for everything she made,” wrote Paisly. “Extra love.”

Paisly wrote that even though she has many people she loves in her life, no one can replace her Grandma. “My Grandma is my inner voice.”

Attending the convention with Paisly were her parents, Ben and Lacy, as well as her Grandfather Frank.

Since 2003, AARP South Dakota and the SDRSP have co-sponsored an annual Grandparent essay to encourage fifth graders across our state to celebrate the significant role their Grandparents play in their lives.  AARP South Dakota and the South Dakota Retired School Personnel would like to thank all the fifth graders who submitted an essay and all the amazing grandparents who inspired them.

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