SAN ANTONIO, March 4, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Operation Homefront today announced the five recipients of the 2014 Military Child of the Year® Award. The national non-profit organization that provides emergency assistance to military families annually gives the award to an outstanding military child from each branch of service – Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard.
From a pool of nearly 1,000 nominees, each award recipient was chosen by a committee including active-duty and retired military personnel, spouses of senior military leaders, veteran service organization leadership, teachers, and community members. The five awardees will receive $5,000 each and will be flown with a parent or guardian to Washington, D.C., for a special recognition gala on April 10, 2014. The awards will be presented by senior leaders of each branch of service and the keynote address will be delivered by Bret Michaels, legendary singer-songwriter, entrepreneur and philanthropist.
"The sons and daughters of America's service members learn at a very young age what it means to be a patriot," said Jim Knotts, President & CEO of Operation Homefront. "These children thrive in the face of the challenges of military life with grace and courage and use that experience to become leaders in their communities. The Military Child of the Year® Award honors their resiliency."
Following are the 2014 Military Child of the Year® award recipients.
Kenzie Hall, 14
At age 11, Kenzie created a school organization called Bratpack 11 to help military kids in her school connect and deal with military kids' issues. In 2013, that evolved into a nonprofit that she now heads to grant wishes to military kids who have lost a parent in combat or have had a parent injured in combat. Her goal is to branch out and have Bratpack 11 groups at schools across the nation where the military population is large. Kenzie is the daughter of Jason and Aerica Hall and has a younger sister, Madison. Her father, Jason, is a Captain stationed with the U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion in Southern California. She comes from a long line of military members including two great grandfathers who served in the Navy—one retired and one served in WWII. A grandfather served in the Air Force, as well as an uncle and great uncle.
Michael-Logan Burke Jordan, 15
Michael-Logan was diagnosed at the age of three with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, which limits his mobility and requires biologic/chemo infusions, injections, multiple oral medications, physical therapy, and surgeries. Michael-Logan is an Ambassador for the Arthritis Foundation and President of his own foundation, The Logan's Heroes Foundation, which helps wounded warriors/first responders and disadvantaged children. At age 13, he addressed Congress about arthritis, the need for Board Certified Pediatric Rheumatologists within the DoD community and access to life-saving drugs. Michael-Logan's professional goal is to become a Pediatric Rheumatologist and focus his practice within military treatment facilities.
Ryan Patrick Curtin, 18 (on March 14th)
Corpus Christi, Texas
Ryan began his senior year at home, in bed, and unable to walk. In early August 2013, Ryan had a lifelong birth defect remedied through major surgery and recovered faster than expected and was able to rejoin his teammates on the soccer team. Ryan is an Eagle Scout, President of the DoD/Naval Air Station Corpus Christi Youth Ambassador Program, President of the Flour Bluff High School Student-to-Student Program and was recently awarded the Presidential Volunteer Service Award (Gold) for 500 annual Volunteer hours. He also lettered in two varsity sports. Ryan's father, Rex, is a Navy Captain (O-6) stationed at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, and his mother, Lisa, is the Interim Director at the Corpus Christi Office of the Navy and Marine Corps Relief Society. Military service is a family tradition. Ryan's great grandfather served in the Army and was a Japanese prisoner of war. One grandfather was in the California National Guard, and the other retired from the Navy after multiple tours in Vietnam. Ryan's uncle served in the Army as an Apache helicopter pilot and is now a Special Agent with the FBI in Virginia.
Gage Alan Dabin, 18
JBER (Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson), Anchorage, Alaska
Currently a senior in high school, Gage has received nominations to all service academies and is awaiting appointments. This fits into his plans to serve in the military as a Foreign Area Officer or in Special Operations. After retiring from the military, Gage would like to be a war correspondent. Gage volunteers with Anchorage's Promise Youth Advisory Board. Amey Armachain, who serves on the Board of Directors of Anchorage's Promise, states that Gage shows more character and integrity than adults twice his age. "The moment Gage joined the committee, he showed his commitment to service, his leadership, and a level of character you don't typically see in youth his age." Jennifer, Gage's mother, is a mortgage specialist and his father, Tobias Adam, is a Senior Master Sergeant Deputy Fire Chief with the 673rd Civil Engineer Squadron at JBER. His family has a long tradition of military service: Gage's great grandfathers were in WWII and one went on to serve in Korea. His grandfather retired from the Navy. Two uncles went to the Naval Academy—one served in the Marines and the other went into the Navy and served in Vietnam.
Juanita Lindsay Collins, 17
Currently a senior, Juanita has been accepted at the University of Tampa, and has applied to UCLA. Her dream is to become a pediatrician. Juanita was nominated by Courtney Ward, her Guidance Counselor for the Exploring Careers and Education in Leadership (EXCEL) magnet program at Largo High School, who states she is "a young woman of talent, character, and integrity who maintains a 4.5 cumulative weighted GPA and is ranked number 5 out of 305 seniors." Ward also states that Juanita is constantly working to be "the best version of herself that she can be." Juanita's mother, Tafaoga, is stationed at Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater in Florida; she is the chief yeoman. Father Ricky is a security guard. Juanita has an aunt who is currently on active duty with the Air Force, and an uncle who is medically retired from the Army with two tours in Afghanistan.
About Operation Homefront: A national nonprofit, Operation Homefront leads more than 2,500 volunteers with nationwide presence who provide emergency and other financial assistance to the families of service members and wounded warriors. Operation Homefront has provided assistance to thousands of military families since its inception in 2002. Recognized for superior performance by leading independent charity watchdog groups, nationally, 93 percent of total donations to Operation Homefront go directly to programs that provide support to our military families. For more information, go to www.OperationHomefront.net.
SOURCE Operation Homefront