ANCHORAGE -

Soldotna's Kiowa Richardson is the latest Fund the Future winner who has turned her tragedy into triumph.

Kiowa Richardson is not your ordinary young lady. In fact, what brought the 17 year old from her one-room cabin in Soldotna she shared with her mom to the Air Force Academy is an extraordinary tale, just like the children's book, "The Christmas Kangaroo", which she wrote, illustrated, and published when she was only fourteen.

It's a journey that Kiowa gives credit for to God and her family.

"You will see there's difficult parts in the book where Willoughby the kangaroo faces trouble," Kiowa said. "But like Willoughby, I also see where God has arranged everything for my better."

It's that faith Kiowa found after her and her mother left an abusive relationship, and after her mother survived an explosion that damaged their first home and left her mother burned.

"You don't come to those kind of places where you need God desperately in your life unless something bad happens," Kiowa said. "So sometimes bad things are what's best for us."

Through hard work and perseverance, Kiowa's passion came out. A love for her writing, her community, that those who know the River City Academy student say is exactly who she is.

"Kiowa is a very hard worker and dependable," said her math teacher Deanne Pearson.

"Kiowa is the kind of person that I could come back in 20 years and say hey remember me and she would," said Zoe Zorn, who is Kiowa's friend. "And she would ask whole heartedly how I was doing and if there was anything she could do to help me."

"In our family success is not measured by accomplishments or anything, success is measured by who you are as a person and your ability to take challenges and turn them into joys," said Betsy Laws, Kiowa's mother.

It's a drive to do what's right that will serve Kiowa well. Success that, for this character, still has many unwritten chapters.

Kiowa got her name after the Kiowa Tribe from the Great Plains. She's glad her family picked that over the next name on the list which was the Kickapoo Tribe.

Kiowa will head to the Air Force Academy in June. She wants to major in English with a French minor to eventually be a translator.

Corey Allen-Young KTUU Channel 2 Reporter cyoung@ktuu.com 744-2642 cell