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Who Will Win The $10,000 Prize?

Imagine if you told a story about your daughter making a big soapy mess and it earned you $5,000 and another $5,000 to share with a organization of your choice. That is exactly the scenario Jennifer Iannuzzi and many other Main Street Connect readers are competing for in the Close to My Heart contest .

Jennifer Iannuzzi's cause lives particularly close to her heart. Her daughter Sydney, the focus of her own Close to My Heart Submission , was born with Smith-Magenis syndrome. According to Iannuzzi's submission, the neurobehavioral genetic syndrome causes "developmental delays, cognitive deficits and self-injurious behaviors." Iannuzzi chose the SMS Research Center as her beneficiary.

"Smith-Magenis syndrome is a relatively rare disease that isn't well understood. The SMS Research Foundation is trying to discover the cause and a cure. Our daughter, Sydney, has taught us what living with SMS means, and has made us dedicated to understanding it," said Iannuzzi.

Drew Lamm's Close to My Heart submission celebrates the messes that children, and in particular her own daughter, can and will make. If her story wins, half of the $10,000 grand prize will go to the Rowayton Library. "I think the library is the heart of any community, the heart of any school. This is a place that opens its doors to everyone, every age, every race and every nationality. You can browse its shelves and carry home any treasure you wish," said Lamm.

Another contestant, Tammy Felenstein, lovingly blamed Cosette the Calico Cat for landing her a husband of 17 years . Her tale of the more humorous indignities of dating and cat ownership is told on behalf of the Stamford Education Association. "Fighting the misconception that our schools are not as good as those in surrounding communities is very difficult," said Felenstein.

Close to My Heart celebrates Valentine's Day by allowing participants to share stories about someone who has touched their lives. Now through Feb. 13 readers can submit their stories. On Valentine's Day, a panel of three judges will choose 10 finalists. The grand prize winner will receive $10,000, half of which goes to a local nonprofit of their choice. The other nine finalists will receive $500 each, with half of that also shared with a nonprofit of their choice.

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