INDIANAPOLIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Cayman Jarvis, 17, of Bargersville and Courtland Cottle, 13, of Kokomo today were named Indiana's top two youth volunteers of 2013 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism. Cayman was nominated by Center Grove High School in Greenwood, and Courtland was nominated by Maple Crest Middle School in Kokomo. The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 18th year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).
Cayman, a junior at Center Grove High School, raised nearly $100,000 over the past seven years to buy toys for hospitalized children by organizing an annual basketball tournament in front of his house. While visiting his friend Tyler at Riley Hospital for Children, Cayman, then only 9 years old, noticed that most of the toys for young patients were broken or missing parts. “It was then I realized I wanted to donate toys to the hospital,” he said. “It is very important to me that while patients are in the hospital, they need an escape.”
Cayman set out to recruit friends to play in a “3 on 3” basketball tournament in his driveway and dedicated the event to Tyler. He solicited sponsorships from local businesses and organizations and then, donated all of the proceeds to the Riley’s Cheer Guild to purchase hospital toys. This annual event has since grown to the point where it draws more than 100 young basketball players, requires two streets to be blocked off, and produces tens of thousands of dollars in donations. With support from his parents, Cayman makes speeches and presentations to schools, civic organizations and businesses, recruits players, and coordinates the tournament logistics. Tragically, Tyler lost his battle with leukemia, but he continues to inspire Cayman’s efforts on behalf of pediatric patients. “I love being able to put smiles on those patients’ faces,” said Cayman.
Courtland, a seventh-grader at Maple Crest Middle School, conducts a twice-yearly toy drive and collects travel-size toiletries to benefit children being treated for cancer at a local hospital and families who stay at a Ronald McDonald house while their children are hospitalized. Courtland started her “Courty Cares” toy drives in 2011 after the infant of a family friend was diagnosed with liver cancer. “When we would visit him at the hospital, all the kids there seemed so sick and sad,” said Courtland. “I wanted to help make them smile. I wanted them to be able to play again.” She decided that she would forego her Christmas presents so that her parents could instead buy gifts for the sick children.
Quickly, word began to spread about what she had done. Friends and family members responded by buying toys for hospitalized kids, too.Courtland then decided to ask the community to help as well. She began soliciting donations through a Facebook page, made flyers and distributed them at school and around the community, spoke to clubs and organizations, and promoted her toy drive through local news media. Courtland also hosted a pool party at her home and asked everyone to bring a toy or toiletries for families staying at the Ronald McDonald house. In addition, she helped organize a blood drive for a friend’s sick baby and requested that participants bring toys, and canvassed her neighborhood for toiletries. Courtland’s collection efforts have yielded more than 1,500 toys, 1,000 toiletry items and $3,000 to make life a little brighter for children battling cancer. And, Courtland says, she will do it again “I will always remember the smiles the kids had when getting their new toy,” she said.
As State Honorees, Cayman and Courtland each will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip in early May to Washington, D.C., where they will join the top two honorees from each of the other states and the District of Columbia for four days of national recognition events. During the trip, 10 students will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2013.
The program judges also recognized six other Indiana students as Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.
These are Indiana's Distinguished Finalists for 2013:
Brooke Campbell, 18, of Kendallville, Ind., a senior at East Noble High School, helped to raise $17,000 for various charities, including Riley Children’s Hospital and the Children’s Miracle Network, as the current Miss Indiana Outstanding Teen. Brooke also created a program called “Move It,” for which she visits elementary school students to discuss the benefits of staying active to inspire them to be physically fit.
Kellie Dippel, 18, of Brownsburg, Ind., a senior at Brownsburg High School, raised $3,000 to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project by coordinating a 5K race. Kellie, who has a goal to raise $10,000 with this year’s race, secured town approval, sought donations and promoted the event, and recently was named community service coordinator at her high school for her efforts.
Audrey Eckart, 13, of Whiteland, Ind., an eighth-grader at Clark-Pleasant Middle School, founded “Lee’s Lifeline,” a charitable project that provided more than 1,200 care bags to visitors of patients in the Neurological Critical Care Unit at Methodist Hospital. Audrey, who created the program after her Uncle Lee was hospitalized, has raised $4,000 to purchase the bags and items such as bottled water, toothbrushes, notepads, snacks and Bibles.
Kaylin Fanta, 17, of St. John, Ind., a junior at Hanover Central High School, founded “Watt’s Backpack Baggers,” a nonprofit organization that has provided more than 4,000 backpacks filled with school supplies, books, toys and more to children in need. Kaylin, who was inspired by her adoption from China,, has recruited volunteers to help, hosted lemonade stands and garage sales to raise money, and over the past decade has grown the program from only 15 backpacks her first year to more than 500 annually.
Amber Kriech, 18, of Carmel, Ind., a senior at Carmel High School, has collected more than 5,500 books and set up five libraries and eight “rolling libraries” for after-school programs in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Amber, who started her program when she was 14, has been working with local organizations and school officials to provide access to books to promote literacy.
Clayton Smith, 17, of Sharpsville, Ind., a senior at Tri-Central High School, has raised $4,000 to support the medical needs of three local children by performing magic shows. Clayton, a self-taught magician who began performing when he was eight years old, created the “Class Act Magic Club” to inspire others interested in learning magic to perfect their skills while performing for free for both children and adults at community events.
“Prudential is proud to honor these students for making meaningful contributions to their communities,” said Prudential Chairman and CEO John Strangfeld. “We hope that shining a spotlight on their initiative, creativity and compassion inspires others to consider how they, too, can make a difference.”
“Through their volunteer service, each of these young people has made his or her mark on at least one person, school or community,” said JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of NASSP. “When you consider the collective impact of each of these individual acts, it’s clear that young people can be a major force for good.”
About The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards represents the United States’ largest youth recognition program based solely on volunteer service. All public and private middle level and high schools in the country, as well as all Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and HandsOn Network affiliates, were eligible to select a student or member for a local Prudential Spirit of Community Award. Nearly 5,000 Local Honorees were then reviewed by an independent judging panel, which selected State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists based on criteria including personal initiative, effort, impact and personal growth.
While in Washington, D.C., the 102 State Honorees – one middle level and one high school student from each state and the District of Columbia – will tour the capital’s landmarks, meet top youth volunteers from other parts of the world, attend a gala awards ceremony at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, and visit their congressional representatives on Capitol Hill. On May 6, 10 of the State Honorees – five middle level and five high school students – will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2013. These National Honorees will receive additional $5,000 awards, gold medallions, crystal trophies and $5,000 grants from The Prudential Foundation for nonprofit charitable organizations of their choice.
Since the program began in 1995, more than 100,000 young volunteers have been honored at the local, state and national level. The program also is conducted by Prudential subsidiaries in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Ireland and India. In addition to granting its own awards, The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program also distributes President’s Volunteer Service Awards to qualifying Local Honorees on behalf of President Barack Obama.
NASSP (National Association of Secondary School Principals) is the leading organization of and national voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and all school leaders from across the United States and more than 36 countries around the world. The association provides research-based professional development and resources, networking, and advocacy to build the capacity of middle level and high school leaders to continually improve student performance. Reflecting its longstanding commitment to student leadership development as well, NASSP administers the National Honor Society™, National Junior Honor Society®, National Elementary Honor Society®, and National Association of Student Councils®. For more information about NASSP, located in Reston, VA, visit www.nassp.org.
About Prudential Financial
Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU), a financial services leader, has operations in the United States, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Prudential’s diverse and talented employees are committed to helping individual and institutional customers grow and protect their wealth through a variety of products and services, including life insurance, annuities, retirement-related services, mutual funds and investment management. In the U.S., Prudential’s iconic Rock symbol has stood for strength, stability, expertise and innovation for more than a century. For more information, please visit http://www.news.prudential.com/.
Editors: For full-color pictures of the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program logo and medallions, click here: http://bit.ly/Xi4oFW