Tomorrow night, at a special gala in Washington D.C., we’ll officially honor five extraordinary young patriots who have been named our 2014 Military Child of the Year recipients. Their presence, strength and leadership shine a beam of light on the resiliency of all military kids. That’s why we celebrate them every year. In recognizing a few, we honor them all!
About our five recipients:
- Combined they have had at least one parent deployed for 131 months;
- As a group, they have moved 30 times, often cross-country;
- They represent 2325 hours (and counting) of volunteer service;
- Some aspire to be foreign correspondents or doctors and have the grades to back it up;
- Two have founded their own nonprofits;
- One advocated for new legislation and addressed Congress;
- One lives daily with health challenges, and another had major heart surgery as a teenager.
- They are award-winning team captains, ROTC commanders, National Honor Society officers, class presidents, and an Eagle Scout;
- But they don’t consider themselves too good to bake cookies, teach Sunday School, serve soup in homeless shelters, blog, collect donations for foster kids, help build a staircase or do what it takes to make life a little better for those who might be suffering around them.
Collectively, they attribute their interest in service, other cultures, love of travel, and trying new things to their upbringing in a military family. Military service is a family affair, and all have extended family who served our country with distinction.
You can read about each recipient in detail here. Here is a quick snapshot of each:
Favorite Quote: Hakuna Matata (Swahili phrase popular in Kenya and Zanzibar)
Gage says, “Growing up I have always pushed myself to be the best, but at the same time I wanted to have fun with everything that I did. My quote translates to no worries, and if you know the rest it’s also my worry free philosophy. The quote has helped me not to take everything so seriously, to take a step back and cherish every activity and friendship.”
Favorite Quote: If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room. (Anita Roddick)
Kenzie shares, “This quote has inspired me as a teenager. The only thing you need to have to be able to make an impact is passion for what you want to change or do. I may be small, but I have a big appetite for success, just like that mosquito!”
Favorite Quote: Getting lost will help you find yourself. (Holstee Manifesto)
Juanita says, “My best friend gave me this quote for Christmas. This quote inspired me because it helped me remember that even when you don’t know the way you’re going, or you feel down, you will eventually find yourself and your calling; why you were put on this earth. Keep moving forward no matter what, God and the path you’re on will lead you to finding yourself.”
Favorite Quote: The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, YOU will fill the world with hope, YOU will fill yourself with hope. (Barack Obama)
Michael-Logan says, “On the days that my disease is at its worst and I start to feel hopeless, I remember the words of our President and I get up and do something. When you give of yourself to your community, you fill the world and yourself with hope.”
Favorite Quote: Challenges are what makes life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful. (Joshua J. Marine)
Ryan says, “Being a military kid is full of challenges, but on the other end of all of those challenges is the great feeling of knowing that you have made sacrifices for your country, however big or small those sacrifices may have been.”
We’re excited that our top military officials think these kids are pretty special too. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey and several other service chiefs will be attending our gala as well. Many of them are now making it an annual event, indicating that they too realize that the whole family serves and deserves any and all recognition. We are also pleased to welcome legendary musician, entrepreneur and philanthropist Bret Michaels, a military kid himself, to the event. Mike Emanuel of Fox News will join us to emcee our very special evening.