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Meet the State Honorees: Keeping Others Safe and Well

Friday, March 8, 2019

Meet some 2019 State Honorees who are working to keep others healthy and out of harm’s way.

Czarina Alfonso, a first-generation Filipino-American, visits the Philippines on summer breaks, and has seen firsthand that many people there don’t have easy access to healthcare. Having watched her dad struggle with polio, she’s also especially mindful of the importance of vaccines.

Her experiences inspired her to create “Give It a Shot,” a program that raises money to vaccinate kids in need in the Philippines against pneumonia – one of the nation’s leading causes of death. Czarina has raised enough money for hundreds of vaccinations over the past few years. She travels to the Philippines every summer to attend the vaccinations, help fill out paperwork and calm the kids after their shots.

“I remember a mother hugging me after her son and daughter were vaccinated, and explaining how they had walked two hours in the heat to come to my program,” said Czarina, a junior at Academy of the Holy Angels in New Jersey. “That made me realize how much of a difference it was making.”

Czarina isn’t the only honoree keeping others safe and well:

Samuel Sexe, a senior at Humboldt High School in Iowa, has responded to more than 200 service calls as a volunteer emergency medical technician in his rural community since completing the rigorous training required to become a member of the Humboldt County Memorial Hospital EMS squad. 

Mehr Grewal, a sixth-grader at Odle Middle School in Washington, has volunteered with a Seattle charitable organization for the past four years, and during that time has initiated campaigns to promote correct hand-washing and healthy eating, and assisted in the group’s semiannual health camps.

Annika Kovar, a senior at Perham High School in Minnesota, created a charity that has encouraged and helped 105 childcare facilities in 21 states to grow vegetable gardens for their kids, and is engaged in numerous other projects to promote healthy eating and physical activity among young people. 

Mia Herrera, a senior at Bosque School in New Mexico, responds to medical and trauma calls as a certified medic with her school’s Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) program, teaches other students how to be emergency medical technicians, coordinates community volunteer opportunities for other MRC members; she has also raised money for the MRC program by selling a self-published poetry book. 

Corbin Edge, an eighth-grader at Ryan Gloyer Middle School in Pennsylvania, raised more than $10,000 for diabetes patients and research last September by assembling and raffling off 75 gift baskets at his town’s Oktoberfest celebration. 

Eloise Massee, an eighth-grader at Bay View Middle School in Wisconsin, is co-chair of a committee at her school that raises funds and awareness to promote life-saving organ donations, and conducts other community service projects, as well. 

Hannah Johnson, a fifth-grader at Eagle Nest Elementary School in New Mexico, took on a project to warn residents of her town about dangerous weather conditions, and also collected supplies for a firefighting crew battling a nearby wildfire. 

We’ll be profiling this year’s State Honorees now through the #PruSpirit2019 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.