Microsoft Celebrates Five Winners of Start Something Amazing Awards

REDMOND, Wash. — Nov. 10, 2005 — Microsoft Corp. today announced the five winners of its Start Something Amazing Awards, a program honoring the unique and inspiring ways that people use Microsoft® Windows®-related technology in simple yet powerful ways to pursue their everyday passions. The five winners each showcased unique and compelling uses of Windows technology to enjoy their interests — from producing a sketch-comedy TV show and connecting with the deaf community to drag racing, tackling the issue of food insecurity and running a music studio. Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates will meet the winners today at Microsoft’s headquarters, where he will present their awards and name 15-year-old Jeannine Johnson as the grand prize winner to be featured in a Microsoft ad.

“Today we celebrate the achievements of five highly creative individuals who used the Microsoft Windows platform to pursue their passions,” Gates said. “Their stories, along with those of thousands of others who entered the Start Something Amazing Awards, are inspirational examples of the transformative power of technology.”

The Start Something Amazing Awards were created to support the global awareness campaign called Start Something, one of the largest and longest marketing campaigns in the Windows brand history, which celebrates the countless possibilities for Windows to bring what people are passionate about to life using the hundreds of thousands of software applications and devices that work with Microsoft Windows XP.

The following are the five winners of the Start Something Amazing Awards:

Microsoft’s Bill Gates (R) with Jeannine Johnson, Redmond, Wash., Nov. 10, 2005.
  • Sports & Games: Jeannine Johnson, 15, Puyallup, Wash. Born three and a half months premature and given a 1 percent chance of survival, Jeannine Johnson battled several health issues and surgeries over the years that left her unable to participate in traditional sports. She turned to drag racing at age 9 and became one of only four National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Junior Dragsters to achieve a “perfect package” during a race (a feat that requires impeccable speed and timing). Johnson relies on Windows-based technology to help monitor her car’s performance. She connects her Windows XP-based PC to her car’s data acquisition system and measures RPM, jack-shaft speed and motor temperature variances from start to finish during each race. Off the track, Johnson uses Microsoft Office Word and Microsoft Office PowerPoint® to help her maintain a 3.8 grade point average.

  • Culture & Community: Michelle Tjelmeland, 32, Springfield, Ill. When Michelle Tjelmeland became deaf at age 22, she turned to technology to help cope with her hearing loss. She earned an online master’s degree in computer technology and education and started her own Web-development business, a career that allowed her to successfully earn a living by using her Windows-based PC to manage her business. When Tjelmeland’s daughter Ellie was born deaf, Tjelmeland became passionate about helping other families in similar circumstances and again turned to technology to help her communicate and share their inspiring story by creating her Web site, Tjelmeland is also a member of the National Association of Women Business Owners.

  • Home & Lifestyle: Diane Reeder, 40, Kingston, N.Y. Diane Reeder, a mother of three who loves to cook, wanted to bring attention to the issue of food insecurity. Her passion for cooking and her desire to help others help themselves led Reeder to found a nonprofit organization called The Queens Galley (, a group of volunteer chefs that teaches people how to stretch the food they already have. Reeder relied on her Windows-based PC to help get The Queens Galley up and running, from finding volunteer chefs on the Internet and creating a Web site with Microsoft Office FrontPage® to developing a newsletter with Microsoft Office Publisher and even designing images for edible cookie icing.

Microsoft’s Bill Gates (R) with Michelle Tjelmeland, Redmond, Wash., Nov. 10, 2005.
  • Music: Andre Isom, 23, Benton Harbor, Mich. Andre Isom has been passionate about music since he was a child and dreamed about being a music producer, artist and engineer. These goals became possible once he saw others using a PC to produce, compose and arrange music. Isom now runs his own music studio from a small Michigan town where he uses his Windows-based PC and several software programs to lay tracks, record vocals and master his music. Isom’s use of technology has also carried over into his job as a radio disc jockey, where he runs his weekly radio show using Windows Media® Player.

  • Memories: E.J. Dyksen, 19, Lansing, Mich. Calvin College student E.J. Dyksen created a comedy show called “Laughterhouse Five,” aiming to entertain his fellow students through airtime on his college TV station. A technology enthusiast at heart, Dyksen was thrilled to find a way to combine his interests in comedy, filmmaking and computers, whether using his Tablet PC to script show ideas, Windows Server™ to communicate through message boards or his Windows XP Media Center Edition-based PC to edit footage. After completing an eight-minute pilot sketch last spring, Dyksen and his pals now plan to distribute their comedy show using Windows Media Video HD technologies.

Johnson, the grand prize winner, will be featured in a Microsoft advertisement scheduled to run in Entertainment Weekly, ESPN Magazine, National Geographic and Rolling Stone in the coming months. In addition to the trip to Seattle to meet Bill Gates, each winner will receive $5,000 in the latest Windows technology, including a Windows XP Media Center Edition-based PC, Tablet PC and iriver H10 portable music device, as well as the following once-in-a-lifetime prizes designed to further celebrate their passions:

Microsoft’s Bill Gates (R) with Diane Reeder, Redmond, Wash., Nov. 10, 2005.
  • Culture & Community: National Geographic Expeditions. Tjelmeland and a guest will get their choice of one of four exotic National Geographic Expeditions. They will have the opportunity to discover the cultural and natural wonders of Bhutan, explore Tanzania and Zanzibar, take a classical journey through Greece, or chart China’s past. The prize package includes airfare and accommodations for two.

  • Home & Lifestyle: Design consultation or Food Network internship for a day. Reeder will receive her choice of either an in-home design consultation with an HGTV-appointed designer and $5,000 to spend on new home decor, or the chance to be an intern at Food Network in New York City, with a crash course in food styling, the chance to assist on-set, an exclusive meal at a Food Network chef restaurant and the entire library of Food Network Kitchens cookbooks. Reeder has selected the Food Network package, which includes airfare and accommodations for two.

  • Music: Once-in-a-lifetime music experience. Isom and a guest will travel to New York for VIP access to a [email protected] performance with an opportunity to meet the artist, program a block of music videos on VH1 Classic, and receive 20 CDs and 20 DVDs from The prize package includes accommodations for two.

  • Memories: Movie premiere weekend. Dyksen and a guest will get VIP access to a major movie premiere in New York City or Los Angeles, with first-class airfare, accommodations for two nights, invitations to an after-party and $500 in spending money. The package is provided by Entertainment Weekly magazine.

Microsoft’s Bill Gates (R) with Andre Isom, Redmond, Wash., Nov. 10, 2005.
  • Sports & Games: Ultimate sports experience. ESPN is offering Johnson a one-of-a-kind trip to go behind the scenes at ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol, Conn., including a tour and an opportunity to meet the “SportsCenter” personalities, as well as an appearance on ESPN2’s “Cold Pizza” to talk about her ultimate sports experience. She and a guest will also have lunch or dinner with an athlete at New York City’s ESPN Zone. This prize package includes accommodations for two.

Microsoft is also awarding 20 honorable mentions and featuring those entries online at In recognition of their amazing uses of Windows-related technologies, honorable mention recipients also will receive an assortment of Microsoft hardware and software products to help them continue to pursue their passions.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

Microsoft, Windows, PowerPoint, FrontPage, Windows Media and Windows Server are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

Microsoft’s Bill Gates (R) with E.J. Dyksen, Redmond, Wash., Nov. 10, 2005.

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