WASHINGTON, May 8, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Illinois' top two youth volunteers of 2017, William Bauman, 17, of Grayslake and Kayli Roe, 12, of Palatine, were honored in the nation's capital last night for their outstanding volunteer service during the 22nd annual presentation of The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. William and Kayli – along with 100 other top youth volunteers from across the country – each received $1,000 awards and personal congratulations from Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps at an award ceremony and gala dinner reception held at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program, sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), named William and Kayli Illinois' top high school and middle level youth volunteers in February. In addition to their cash awards, they each received an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip with a parent to Washington, D.C., for four days of recognition events.
William, a junior at Grayslake North High School, launched a comprehensive campaign to raise awareness about the hazards of distracted driving and other aspects of road safety, an effort that has attracted national attention and helped pass a state law banning the use of handheld phones while driving. Four years ago, William and his mother were involved in a fender bender when she took her eyes off the road for a split second to read a text message. "At that moment I had a terrible thought about how close we came to being killed or killing somebody, just because of texting," said William. He knew he had to warn people about the dangers of distracted driving.
He started by visiting schools and scout troops to talk about distracted driving, and got permission from his mayor to display 100 signs throughout the town. He posted public service announcements on YouTube, sought interviews with the news media, and spread his message at parades and festivals. His efforts attracted the attention of a state legislator, who worked with him on a bill prohibiting drivers from using handheld phones. William has since created a nonprofit organization called "On The Road to Safe Driving" to teach children and teens how to be safe while walking, bicycling and driving. Over the past four years, more than 200 parents and teenagers have signed safe driver contracts, more than 1,000 teens have used a distracted driver simulator, hundreds of bikes and helmets have been donated to kids from low-income families, and more than 300 kids have received certificates for following the rules of the road, thanks to William's efforts.
Kayli, a seventh-grader at Immanuel Lutheran School, has raised more than $25,000 to help people in need by selling jewelry and other craft items that she and her younger sisters make through their organization "Sisters Giving Hope." It all began with a jewelry box that one of Kayli's sisters received for Christmas in 2012. "I was thinking about all the people in the world who might not have enough money for Christmas presents," said Kayli. "I thought we could change that." After discussing it with their parents, the sisters decided to make jewelry to sell.
They began spreading the word about their idea by contacting friends and creating a Facebook page. At first, Kayli and her sisters made jewelry such as bracelets and necklaces, but then expanded their products to include dog toys, jump ropes, blankets, art and other items. They set up tables at grocery stores, churches, schools, stores and festivals to sell their wares, and also accept orders via email. Every three months, Kayli said, they support a new cause. So far, they have started a college fund for a boy whose father died of ALS, contributed to a boy's stem cell transplant, raised money for a girl with brain cancer, and helped make a former soldier's house wheelchair accessible. They've also hosted charity garage sales, started a yellow ribbon project to raise awareness of childhood cancer, marched in parades to promote volunteerism at all ages, and more. "I want to show the world that just because you are young doesn't mean that you can't make a BIG difference in the world," said Kayli.
"These honorees have done exemplary work to contribute to the health and vitality of their communities, and we look forward to seeing the great things they achieve in the future," said John Strangfeld, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, Inc. "Congratulations to each of these extraordinary young volunteers."
"It's a privilege to celebrate these students not only for outstanding volunteer service, but for the example they've set for their peers," said Jayne Ellspermann, president of NASSP. "These honorees prove that one person truly can make a difference."
Youth volunteers in grades 5-12 were invited to apply for 2017 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards last fall through schools, Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and affiliates of the HandsOn Network. More than 31,000 middle level and high school students nationwide participated in this year's program.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program was created in 1995 to identify and recognize young people for outstanding volunteer service – and, in so doing, inspire others to volunteer, too. In the past 22 years, the program has honored more than 120,000 young volunteers at the local, state and national level.
The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) is the leading organization of and voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and school leaders from across the United States. 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
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Editors: For pictures of the Spirit of Community Awards program logo and medallions, visit https://spirit.prudential.com/resources/media.
For B-roll of Illinois' honorees at the 2017 national recognition events, contact Prudential's Harold Banks at (973) 216-4833 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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SOURCE Prudential Insurance