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‘Queen of Katwe’ receives help for costs to attend Northwest University in Kirkland

KIRKLAND, Wash. – A real-life Disney princess lives in Western Washington as a student at Northwest University in Kirkland.

Instead of a big castle and charming prince, Phiona Mutesi used chess to change her life.

You’ll remember her life was portrayed in the Disney movie “Queen of Katwe.”

Saturday, her classmates and faculty are stepping up to make her reality even better.

The game of chess is a lot like the game of life.

“You can win, you can draw or you can learn,” said Chess for Life Founder Elliott Neff.

It was a stiff learning curve for Phiona Mutesi from Uganda.

“My life was so hard. I lost my dad when I was three years old and during that time my mom did not go to school and we didn’t have anything,” said Mutesi.  “I went to the chess program just to get what to eat but I ended up learning chess.”

The movie shows how chess helped her rise from homelessness, begging on the streets to being a heroine of her community.

During the promotional tours of the book, she and another character from the movie came to the US and met Elliott Neff, the founder of Chess for Life.  The President of the University offered both Phiona and Benjamin Mukumbya a scholarship to the university.

“Which was something so incredible, I never imagined it,” said Mutesi.

But their new reality isn’t a free ride.

“Both students got a full tuition offer to go to northwest. Challenge is coming from Uganda they couldn’t afford the living expenses,” said Neff.

That’s why the chess tournament fundraiser is so important.  The students are several thousand dollars short of paying their fees.

“I’m so grateful I never imagined someone would come out and just support someone they don’t know,” said Mutesi.

You may be thinking these two students whose real lives were portrayed in a Disney movie should be millionaires, but because Disney lost money making the film, neither Mutesi or Mukumbya made any money by sharing their stories for the film.