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State Honoree

Christopher Leader

Louisiana

Christopher Leader, 12, of West Monroe, La., a member of the Ouachita Parish 4-H and a sixth-grader at George Welch Elementary School, collected more than a thousand hats for children who have cancer and are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment. Chris decided to collect hats in honor of his cousin Luke, a long-term cancer patient. “I’ve seen Luke struggle to beat the odds and achieve more than anyone expected,” Chris said. “His life is the inspiration for everything I’ve done with this project.” With the help of his school’s 4-H group, Chris distributed flyers and started a class ‘challenge’ collection drive. Other flyers went to businesses, schools and church groups in the community. Over a six-month period Chris received 1,166 hats, which were then distributed to children at three medical summer camps by the American Cancer Society. Chris plans to continue collecting hats for at least two more years. He sent two from this year’s drive to Luke. “When someone you love lives with cancer on a daily basis, it starts to affect you,” he said. “I hope to let these kids know that they are important and someone cares.”