We can’t help but be inspired when we hear about youth who are using sports for good. This spring, let’s honor some young heroes who are changing the world. The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards is honoring several remarkable young students who have used sports to make a difference. The following are just two of these outstanding individuals.
Cassie Wang, 17, of Lenexa, Kansas, is a senior at Olathe Northwest High School. While driving to a golf tournament just after Joplin, Missouri’s tornado, Cassie saw firsthand the devastation the tornado had wrought. “My heart ached as I watched people walk the streets who might not have had a home or bed to sleep in that night,” she recalls. Upon returning home, Wang asked local businesses, private donors and her golf fans to make a donation for Joplin relief efforts every time she scored a birdie in a tournament. She publicized her “Birdies for Charity” campaign through brochures, a website and social media. In total she raised $1,000 for tornado victims in Joplin. Having experienced the joy of helping others, Cassie volunteered to chair a community blood drive as an officer of her school’s student council. She distributed flyers throughout the school district, made a promotional video, recruited more than 150 people to help, and secured food and raffle donations from 18 businesses. That drive collected a record 430 units of blood, and a second drive began last fall. Cassie also formed a nonprofit group of students that has raised more than $8,000 to provide computers and other items to a sister school in an earthquake-ravaged area of China and to continue supporting relief efforts in Joplin.
Adam Breneman, 17, of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania is a senior at Cedar Cliff High School. A friend of Adam’s, Tom Kirchhoff had been a star football player as a young man and was diagnosed with ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) in 2010. The diagnosis “shook me up emotionally,” Adam explained. “I immediately wanted to help, but I did not know how.” However, an idea soon began to take shape. “Being a high-profile, nationally ranked football tight end, I figured I could use my notoriety to help fight ALS,” he said. Adam launched a fundraising effort called “Catch the Cure.” Using the slogan he designed a website to solicit donations. To promote the site, he used social media, reached out to news media contacts and sent emails to friends and family members. He also sold “Catch the Cure” T-shirts and bracelets in his community, spoke to local football teams and civic organizations and arranged to have a football game at his high school declared, “Catch the Cure Night.” “We raised thousands of dollars on that night alone,” he said. Adam’s initial goal was to raise $20,000, but by the end of October, his charity had collected more than $150,000 for Project ALS, which recruits doctors and researchers to find a cure.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program is the largest youth recognition program based exclusively on volunteer community service in the United States. Since 1995, more than 345,000 young Americans have participated in the program. Each year, the program’s judges select 102 State Honorees to receive an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. where, on May 6th, 10 will be named National Honorees. You can watch the live webcast of the May 6th event here: http://bit.ly/YN1OLU.
Visit spirit.prudential.com for more information on this year’s event and honorees. If you’re looking to get more involved in this program, “Like” the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards on Facebook, visit their YouTube page and follow them on Twitter (@PruSpirit) to stay up to date on all honorees projects.
*Information courtesy of Valerie Cardaci of WestGlen.