Youth Volunteer Award Winners
April is National Volunteer Month! We are pleased to announce Pennsylvania’s Top Two State Honorees for 2019 in the prestigious Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, the nation’s largest youth volunteer awards program honoring students in grades 5-12 for outstanding volunteer service, now in its 24th year.
High School State Honoree
Grace Beal, 17, of New Castle, Pa., a junior at Neshannock Senior High School, organized an annual basketball-based fundraising event that has raised more than $100,000 since 2014 for Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, where her sister was treated before she died of congenital heart failure. “Lucy was the sweetest baby, even though she had a lot of medical issues that meant she would spend long periods in the hospital,” Grace said. “My family had its world turned upside down when she was sick, and when she died, I knew I wanted to help other kids and their families.” While still in elementary school, Grace began doing that by conducting service projects in her sister’s honor. She collected books for the hospital’s library, swam laps to attract donations, and gathered blankets for babies at a children’s home.
In seventh grade, she asked her basketball coaches if her team could shoot layups after practice to raise money for Children’s Hospital. She ended up with almost $6,000. “I was so excited by that outcome that I decided to plan for something even bigger the next year,” she said. Grace has hosted “Layups for Lucy” every October since, around the time of Lucy’s birthday. In the early spring, she meets with several dozen students to plan the event’s activities, concessions and entertainment. Last year, there was an elementary basketball clinic, a free throw contest, a student vs. faculty basketball game, a DJ and a magician, a dance line, cheerleader performances, face painting, food and raffle baskets. Grace approaches local and national businesses for sponsorships, oversees all aspects of the event, and meets with officials at the hospital to identify ways her donation can have the most impact. So far, Layups for Lucy has funded family outings at the zoo and ballpark, purchased Xboxes and iPads for young patients, and helped support a summer bereavement camp for siblings.
Middle Level State Honoree
Corbin Edge, 15, of Evans City, Pa., an eighth-grader at Ryan Gloyer Middle School, raised more than $10,000 for diabetes patients and research last September by assembling and raffling off 75 gift baskets at his town’s Oktoberfest celebration. Corbin has been living with Type 1 diabetes since he was 18 months old. “Being so young, I didn’t realize what was going on or how things were going to change for me,” said Corbin. “I learned as I got older how it has affected my life, and I didn’t want other children to have to go through what I have.” After attending a camp for young diabetics, Corbin was inspired to raise money for the cause. He started out small, forming a team for a diabetes walk and just asking family and friends for donations. “That was successful for a while,” he said, “but I wanted to go bigger!”
After attending an event at his school and seeing how eager people were to buy raffle tickets for a chance to win a gift basket, Corbin decided to organize an “American Diabetes Basket Raffle” in his community. He drafted a letter about himself and his struggles with diabetes and took it to local businesses to solicit donations. The response was “overwhelming,” he said. Once he had collected or purchased items for his raffle, his family helped him organize them into 75 themed baskets. He set up tables to display the baskets and sell tickets, and two days later, he announced the winners, distributed the baskets, and counted his proceeds. “I had set the goal at $10,000,” said Corbin, “and when I reached that number, I screamed in excitement!” The money will be used to send young diabetics to a diabetes camp, and to pay for research into a cure, which is what Corbin wants most. “A life of no more shots or finger pricks,” he said hopefully.
Please go to the following link to read the stories of these remarkable young volunteers: