HAMPDEN, Maine — Rivers Bradford just got a big head start toward the day she goes off to college approximately 17 years from now. The 13-month-old girl was the grand prize winner in the infants division of a $25,000 scholarship contest in the Johnson’s Treasuring Everyday Joy campaign. Her parents, Brock and Shelby Bradford of Hampden, learned last month that their daughter was the winner.
“We were extremely excited,” said Shelby Bradford. “Every parent would love to have $25,000 to help with college. It’s a great start to her college fund. We will add to it and hopefully it will pay for more than books by the time she gets to college.”
Initially, Rivers’ photo was one of 21 selected by Johnson’s officials out of 2,000 for the online competition which encouraged consumers to upload photos of their babies and toddlers to the Johnson’s Facebook page last year.
But the scholarship was not the only prize Rivers won in the competition. When her photo was selected for the final round in July 2011, she won a video camera. The photos were judged on creativity, expression of joy, how well it fit the contest theme, “Summer Fun” and adhering to proper baby safety, according to a press release.
“I can’t envision her as 18 and going off to college,” Shelby Bradford said. “It’s hard to believe she’s 1.”
The winning photo of Rivers was taken on the banks of Pushaw Lake by her grandmother, Cheryl Bradford of Glenburn, who is not a professional photographer.
“I thought, ‘What was more fun in summer than an old-fashioned picnic by the lake?’ There are a lot of heartstrings tied to a picnic. I wanted that feel. The day I took the picture we were right down to the deadline. Rivers had just had a nap and she was so happy that day,” she said. Cheryl snapped the photo with her Canon Rebel camera.
“I took at least 20 and there was one that was the best. We were really blessed that day because the weather was so great.” Cheryl Bradford has two other granddaughters in addition to Rivers, all under age 2. She expects there will be many tea parties and lots more photos taken by the lake.
“She pulled out all her creative skills for the photo,” Shelby said.
After that, it was up to the judges — and family and friends, since the final two weeks of the contest required voting online.
“Family and friends voted daily and we thank them for that,” Shelby said. “My husband was sure she would win. I wasn’t so sure because there were so many cute babies in the contest.”
Competition judges felt that, “Rivers’ smile and joyous expression captured the essence of a happy baby.
To learn more about the campaign, go to Johnson’s Facebook page, at Facebook.com/johnsonsbaby.