TAMPA, Fla., Feb. 20, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- St. Joseph's Children's Hospital today announced the winners of its annual Kids are Heroes campaign. During a special ceremony Tampa Bay Lightning Center and Kids are Heroes Spokeschampion Steven Stamkos helped St. Joseph's Children's Hospital congratulate the winners in three age categories.
During a six-week nomination period, parents, teachers, guidance counselors and neighbors submitted stories highlighting heroic and selfless deeds of 113 local children ages 5 to 18 years old. In November, Stamkos helped patients of St. Joseph's Children's Hospital choose the winners in each age group. Since 1996, St. Joseph's Children's Hospital's annual "Kids are Heroes" program has recognized more than 1,300 children from Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas and Polk counties who have performed heroic deeds, displayed acts of selflessness and demonstrated good citizenship during the past year.
Some examples of past winners include children who have pulled an accident victim from a burning car, saved a sibling from a dog attack, donated their time or money to a charitable organization, befriended a special needs student in their classroom, donated their hair to make wigs for cancer patients and called 911 to help their relative suffering from a heart attack.
(Editor's Note: The neighborhood and county for each winner are in parentheses next to their name for those media outlets with several bureaus.)
Winners in the 5-8 Year Old Category
THIRD PLACE – Michael King, South Tampa (Hillsborough)
This hero was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 4 and has since become an advocate for the disease. He recently traveled to Tallahassee to help push the "Safe at School" bill. With this hero's wonderful speaking and people skills he was able to help get the bill passed.
SECOND PLACE – Jack Hall, St. Petersburg (Pinellas)
This hero is constantly putting others' needs before his own. He befriended a special needs student in his class and invites him over often. This hero also got his family to help with transportation so his new friend could attend football games with him. This hero always makes sure to include others when playing games and helping out whenever he is needed.
FIRST PLACE – Connor Rakoczy, Odessa (Pasco)
Last year when a family's house burned down this hero sold gum, and collected donations for the family in need. He raised more than $700 for the family.
Winners in the 9-12 Year Old Category
THIRD PLACE – Sydney Marcell Fisher, Land O' Lakes (Pasco)
This past summer when a young child fell in to the pool and others ran to get help, this hero quickly jumped into action and pulled the child from the pool. After the child's dad was able to calm down and take control of the situation, this hero just slipped away and continued his walk home, not once asking for recognition for what he did.
SECOND PLACE – Ainsleigh Wall, Land O' Lakes (Pasco)
After hearing a sermon at church about giving back this hero decided she wanted to make a difference. Her Sunday school class had tried to raise money to buy a cow for Heifer International but they didn't raise enough money. This hero started Candy Canes for Cows at her school, a weeklong event where she sold candy canes for 25 cents. She used her own money to buy the first round of more than 300 candy canes, and sold out on the first day. By the end of the week she sold more than 4,000 candy canes and raised enough money to buy a cow, a goat, a pig and some chickens for Heifer International, who donated them to families in Africa.
FIRST PLACE – Jared Upmann, Valrico (Hillsborough)
This hero's aunt had a heart attack in July and his family took in his five cousins. When his parents separated a couple months later and his mom needed help keeping up with the household chores, he learned how to cook for the family, including nine children. He now cooks a nutritious meal every night for his family.
Winners in the 13-18 Category
THIRD PLACE – Marc Berson, New Tampa (Hillsborough)
This hero started a reading program that donates books to underprivileged elementary students, having donated books to more than 1,200 students. He also has started a water safety initiative, having helped 100 parents and children learn about water safety and how to prevent drowning. This summer he also traveled to Jamaica to help teach students to read. He also went to Israel to help plant trees, to improve the air around big cities.
SECOND PLACE – Jack Hardee, Plant City (Hillsborough)
This hero is actively involved in the Wounded Warrior Project. He heard about a veteran from his home town who lost both legs in an arm explosion in July 2011. This hero started a letter writing campaign, sending more than 100 letters to family and friends to ask for $10 donations. To date, he has collected $500 for the veteran and his family to remodel their home and make it handicap accessible. He also volunteers at the Steppin' Stone Farms, a nonprofit home for potential runaway and troubled teen girls.
FIRST PLACE – Dustin Bush, New Port Richey (Pasco)
This past year when a fishing boat capsized this hero saved three other men. The men weren't wearing life jackets but he found other items to help them stay afloat for over an hour until a charter boat found them.
SOURCE BayCare Health System