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Meet the State Honorees: Keeping Others Safe and Well

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

This year’s honorees found a wide range of ways to promote wellness and public safety. These are some of their stories.

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In sixth grade, Abigail Slama-Catron’s robotics team entered a competition calling for projects that improved human-animal interactions. Remembering the 2009 bird strike that caused Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger to land a plane on the Hudson River, Abigail wondered how her local airport handled bird traffic. She discovered it had dealt with 216 bird strikes just the year before.

Abigail and her team ended up designing a “bionic scarecrow” out of a car battery, marine fan and nylon wind sock – a device that Salt Lake City International Airport went on to use. She and her team have been invited to demonstrate the device at several conferences, and Abigail herself has continued to raise awareness of the project by making and screening a film called “Strike Out.”

“I have grown by knowing my ideas are worth pursuing, and that it’s OK to lean on others for support and help,” said Abigail, a seventh-grader at Midvale Middle School in Utah.

Abigail’s not the only one looking out for public safety.

Kennison Adams, a senior at Edwardsville High School in Illinois, has dedicated more than 450 hours over the past three years to helping people in emergency situations and other events as a member of her local Fire Department Explorer Post.

Abigail Diuble, an eighth-grader at Manchester Middle-High School in Michigan, was inspired by her sister’s close call to raise money for others with visual and hearing impairments, to provide them with specialized alarm systems for carbon monoxide, smoke and dangerous weather.

Samuel Grandfield, a senior at Harwood Union High School in Vermont, has volunteered for the past two years as a junior firefighter for his local fire department – and inspired three of his friends to sign on as well.

Katherine Huggins, an eighth-grader at Wilson High School in Alabama, collected, then donated small stuffed animals to every volunteer fire department in her county, so that firefighters could give them to kids affected by car accidents and other emergencies.

Several other honorees are dedicated to helping people get well and stay well.

Lillian Sherburne, a senior at Boothbay Region High School in Maine, now serves as president of her school’s Student Health Advisory Board after playing a lead role for several years in board initiatives that promote healthy and safe lifestyles for students.

Grace McAllister, a freshman at Nettleton High School in Mississippi, collected and donated more than 1,000 new stuffed animals to comfort kids traumatized by sexual abuse and let them know that they are not alone.

Ella Byers, a seventh-grader at Mater Christi School in Vermont, has recruited friends for the past eight years to participate in a fundraising bike ride for a center that helps people break the cycle of poverty, addiction and abuse.

Ryan Guggenheim, a senior at Mounds Park Academy in Minnesota, helps provide essential dental care in impoverished communities in Guatemala as the first-ever youth ambassador for the Open Wide Foundation (OWF).

Zane Magee, a senior at Montgomery High School in Texas, formed a nonprofit ministry that supports deployed soldiers and military veterans in a variety of ways, putting a special focus on helping those with PTSD.

Ashlen Wright, a senior at Sheyenne High School in North Dakota, was motivated by the suicide of a friend to advocate for teen mental health and suicide prevention, raising money and awareness in her community and connecting at-risk teens with the resources available to help them.

We’ll be profiling this year’s State Honorees twice a week, now through the #PruSpirit2018 national recognition events in Washington, D.C. You can find the stories of all this year’s state-level honorees at https://spirit.prudential.com/honorees/state.