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State Honoree

Holly Walker

Nevada

Holly Walker, 14, of Henderson, Nev., an eighth-grader at Thurman White Middle School, launched and leads “Generation Hope,” an organization designed to help all children in Nevada who are diagnosed with cancer, HIV/AIDS, sickle cell anemia and other catastrophic diseases. Holly was inspired by the story of her mother’s victory over childhood cancer, and by her grandfather’s courageous battle with stomach cancer (he died in May 1999). “I was determined to set up a program that would help every child in Nevada struggling with one of these diseases,” she said. After researching factors that make a difference in a child’s recovery, Holly began conducting a fundraising campaign in her school district to buy stuffed teddy bears equipped with taped messages of encouragement for kids diagnosed with a critical illness. She then used her earnings from a summer job to buy materials for 215 handmade gifts bags, and recruited friends to decorate and distribute them to treatment centers throughout the state. Holly also has volunteered at a summer camp for young cancer patients and their siblings, and has raised $8,000 to help operate the camp. “What started out as a desire to help critically ill children became a passionate journey that’s changed my life,” Holly said.