WASHINGTON, May 8, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Texas' top two youth volunteers of 2017, Ryan Almusawi, 17, of Fort Worth and Micah Pinson, 12, of Shady Shores, 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. Ryan and Micah – 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 Ryan and Micah Texas' 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.
Ryan, a junior at Saginaw High School, is the president and CEO of "Charitable Crusaders Inc.," a nonprofit organization of high school students who work on a variety of service projects that benefit families in need. When he was a sixth-grader, Ryan and a small group of classmates made a pact to do some good. They came together to host small community projects, beginning with a toy drive for young patients at Cook Children's Medical Center. As the group grew and gained experience under Ryan's leadership, it established a board of directors, filed for nonprofit status, and planned increasingly ambitious endeavors.
Charitable Crusaders volunteers give backpacks stuffed with school supplies to children in need during an annual "Back to School" event. In December 2015, they rushed to nearby Garland, Texas, to help families recover from a tornado that struck the day after Christmas. When a local boy was struck and killed by a car, Ryan and his crew held a bake sale to raise money for the boy's family. Currently, Charitable Crusaders is working to implement an after-school youth mentoring program at several local schools. "Philanthropy is an avenue that brings people from all races, cultures and backgrounds together for one common purpose: helping others," said Ryan.
Micah, a seventh-grader at Corinth Classical Academy, has conducted an annual holiday toy drive over the past six years that has gathered more than 25,000 toys and games for patients at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children as a way of giving back to the hospital for the free care he received there. Micah was born with a left hand that was missing three and a half fingers, but now, after two surgeries at Scottish Rite, "there is almost nothing I can't do," he said. The hospital not only treated Micah's hand, but also hosted a "hand camp" where Micah could meet other kids and counselors with hand differences and realize that he was not alone.
Grateful for all the hospital had done, Micah and his father met with an officer there to find out how they could help Scottish Rite. That's when Micah decided to collect toys that the hospital could give to its patients throughout the year. So now, every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Micah and his family knock on doors and place collection boxes at businesses and other community locations, often with the help of local high school students and other volunteers. A few days before Christmas, Micah gathers all of the items that have been donated and delivers them to the hospital. "There are many ways to give back to causes that are important to you," said Micah. "I am thankful for the opportunity to support Texas Scottish Rite Hospital."
"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 Texas' honorees at the 2017 national recognition events, contact Prudential's Harold Banks at (973) 216-4833 or email@example.com.
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SOURCE Prudential Insurance