WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Washington's top two youth volunteers of 2016, Tristan Ryan, 18, of Vancouver and Emma Murphy, 14, of Enumclaw, were honored in the nation’s capital last night for their outstanding volunteer service during the 21st annual presentation of The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. Tristan and Emma – along with 100 other top youth volunteers from across the country – each received $1,000 awards and personal congratulations from Academy Award-winning actress Hilary Swank at an award ceremony and gala dinner reception held at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program, sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), named Tristan and Emma Washington's top high school and middle level youth volunteers in February. In addition to their cash awards, they each received an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip with a parent to Washington, D.C., for four days of recognition events.
Tristan, a senior at Seton Catholic College Preparatory, worked with his brother to raise more than $100,000 to begin a music therapy program for premature infants at a local hospital, and to purchase equipment to reduce noise in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The brothers, who take on a different project every year to benefit their community, decided on their hospital fundraiser after listening to a family friend describe how hearing live harp music had brought her peace during the very stressful three months that her premature twins were confined to the NICU. “I had spent 11 days in intensive care at birth, and know how hard that was on my parents,” said Tristan. “Their stories inspired me to act on behalf of newborns and their families to provide the best possible environment and care at our local hospital.”
The boys visited the hospital to find out more about the NICU and its needs. They learned that, according to many studies, noise has a negative effect on the growth of premature babies, but music enhances healing and development. So they decided to raise money to bring regular music to the unit and purchase monitors that would cut down on extraneous noise. The brothers developed a presentation to illustrate the need and then met with a local philanthropist, who agreed to match up to $25,000 of whatever they raised. Over the next two months, the brothers met with local businesses, friends and family members to ask for financial support. They also sold poinsettias at Christmastime, held a Super Bowl fundraiser and threw a Valentine’s Day dinner at their house. In the end, they received 117 donations, providing $103,432 for the hospital.
Emma, an eighth-grader at Enumclaw Middle School, raises both money and awareness for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) to seek a cure for Type 1 diabetes, and also volunteers at school and church in a variety of ways. “I’m very passionate about freeing the world from diabetes, a disease we’ve battled for thousands of years,” said Emma, who is diabetic herself. Every year she leads a team called “Emma Jane’s Gang” that participates in a walk-run fundraiser in Seattle called “Beat the Bridge.” She also raises funds at school for JDRF, makes public appearances to focus attention on diabetes, and helps her father with an annual fundraiser they hold at their home.
In addition, Emma has helped lead recycling activities, food drives, and other service projects at her school; worked at a local food bank; helped with a beach cleanup; supported Special and Senior Olympics; and entertained residents at an adult family home. “All of these activities make an impact because they make others feel good, make the world a better place, and start a chain reaction of kindness and support for each other,” said Emma.
“By using their time and talents to better their communities, these young people have achieved great things – and become examples for us all,” said John Strangfeld, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, Inc. “Congratulations to an exemplary group of honorees.”
“These students have demonstrated a truly remarkable level of leadership and commitment in the course of their volunteer service, and it’s an honor to celebrate their accomplishments,” said Michael Allison, president of NASSP. “We commend each and every one of them for a job well done.”
Youth volunteers in grades 5-12 were invited to apply for 2016 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards last fall through schools, Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and affiliates of the HandsOn Network. More than 29,000 middle level and high school students nationwide participated in this year’s program.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program was created in 1995 to identify and recognize young people for outstanding volunteer service – and, in so doing, inspire others to volunteer, too. In the past 21 years, the program has honored more than 115,000 young volunteers at the local, state and national level.
The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) is the leading organization of and voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and school leaders from across the United States. The association connects and engages school leaders through advocacy, research, education, and student programs. NASSP advocates on behalf of all school leaders to ensure the success of each student and strengthens school leadership practices through the design and delivery of high quality professional learning experiences. Reflecting its long-standing commitment to student leadership development, 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 www.news.prudential.com.
Editors: For pictures of the Spirit of Community Awards program logo and medallions, click here: http://bit.ly/Xi4oFW
For B-roll of Washington's honorees at the 2016 national recognition events, contact Prudential’s Harold Banks at (973) 216-4833 or firstname.lastname@example.org.