Utah's Top Two Youth Volunteers Selected in 19th Annual National Awards Program
Ogden and Bountiful students earn $1,000 awards, engraved medallions and trip to nation’s capital
Honors also bestowed on youth volunteers in Salt Lake City, Highland, Alpine and South Ogden
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Hailey Daniels, 17, of Ogden and Luke Hughes, 13, of Bountiful today were named Utah's top two youth volunteers of 2014 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism. Hailey was nominated by Bonneville High School in Washington Terrace, and Luke was nominated by Bountiful Junior High School in Bountiful. The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 19th year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).
“They use their time and talents to make a meaningful difference in their communities, and we hope their example inspires others to do the same.”
Hailey, a senior at Bonneville High School, inspires and supports young people who struggle with health issues by raising money for the Arthritis Foundation and sharing her own story of living with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Hailey was shocked and distressed when she received her diagnosis at age 15. But “after pondering the situation, I promised myself that I was going to be the best me that I could be,” she said. “I was going to face this trial with a positive attitude.” Hoping to inspire and help others in similar circumstances, Hailey got her school, church and others in her community involved in making uplifting cards for patients at a local children’s hospital. She delivered the “Love Letters” every six weeks while visiting her doctor at the hospital.
When Hailey found out about the Arthritis Foundation, she immediately jumped in to assist with fundraising events, advocacy efforts, gala dinners and activities for kids. For the foundation’s annual fundraising walk, Hailey formed three teams comprised of family members, friends and fellow high school students. The teams raised more than $6,000 with activities including barbecues, sucker sales, dinners at local restaurants and a benefit meal at a soup kitchen. In all of her endeavors, Hailey strives to inspire others to stay positive and chase their dreams. “My dream is to help others, especially children, realize that they can accomplish anything and conquer any problem with a smile on their face and a positive attitude,” she said.
Luke, an eighth-grader at Bountiful Junior High School, donated 25 large framed photographs, which he took himself, to decorate the halls of a newly-opened facility for homeless veterans. When Luke heard that Valor House, a residential facility for homeless veterans, had opened in his community, he wanted to do something to lift the spirits of the residents. “I have three great-grandpas who were World War II veterans and lots of neighbors and family friends who have served our country,” said Luke. “It always makes me sad to see veterans who are homeless.” Luke contacted the Valor House property manager and learned that because of budget constraints, most of the facility’s walls were empty. Luke proposed filling them with framed photographs.
“This project was not a piece of cake,” said Luke. “I did not realize the amount of effort it would take to execute it.” After taking and editing the scenic photos, he spent his summer days sanding and painting wood to make custom frames with the help of his neighbor, who is a Vietnam vet, and members of his Boy Scout troop. Luke then matted each picture, cut glass for the frame and mounted hardware on the back. When he was finished, the 70 residents of Valor House had beautiful scenes to look at instead of empty walls. “I have been very blessed in my life and am grateful that I was able to give back to such deserving people,” said Luke.
As State Honorees, Hailey and Luke 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 2014.
The program judges also recognized four other Utah students as Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.
These are Utah's Distinguished Finalists for 2014:
Bonnie Bennett, 18, of Salt Lake City, Utah, a senior at East High School, has been performing her harp at the Primary Children’s Hospital once a week for the past two years. Bonnie, who is president of her National Honor Society and the Mayor’s Youth Coalition, also raised more than $2,500 to benefit the Elizabeth Smart Foundation by hosting harp concerts.
Abigail Crane, 13, of Highland, Utah, a member of the Girl Scouts of Utah and a seventh-grader at Timberline Middle School, collected more than 500 stuffed animals to support “Project Teddy Bear,” an organization that provides stuffed animals to children in crisis. Abigail, who worked on the project with a fellow Girl Scout, made donation boxes and convinced local businesses to serve as drop-off spots.
Monroe Dauwalder, 17, of Alpine, Utah, a senior at Utah County Academy of Sciences, is a passionate member of his community who has participated in a number of service projects, and set up several “Take – Read – Share” freestanding book boxes that let people borrow books in his town, which does not have a library. Monroe also created the “Tech Buddy System,” for which he gathered a group of teen volunteers to teach seniors how to operate technological devices.
Landon Weeks, 17, of South Ogden, Utah, a senior at Bonneville High School, has been singing and playing the piano at community events for several years with the goal of inspiring others to persevere and follow their dreams -- as he himself has done despite the difficulties of phocomelia, a disease he’s had since birth. Landon recently won $10,000 for his school when he took first place in a talent competition.
“We applaud each of these young people for their exemplary volunteer service,” said Prudential Chairman and CEO John Strangfeld. “They use their time and talents to make a meaningful difference in their communities, and we hope their example inspires others to do the same.”
“By going above and beyond in their volunteer service, these students have brought positive change to communities across the country,” said JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of NASSP. “Congratulations to each and every one of them on this well-deserved honor.”
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. These 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 5, 10 of the State Honorees – five middle level and five high school students – will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2014. 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, India and China. 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.
The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) 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 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 full-color pictures of the Spirit of Community Awards program logo and medallions, click here: http://bit.ly/Xi4oFW.