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State Honoree

Courtney Smits


Courtney Smits, 11, of McDonough, Ga., a sixth-grader at Union Grove Middle School, conceived a campaign to support returning servicemen and women who need prosthetics or prosthetic care, and to raise public awareness of the issues faced by these "wounded warriors." Courtney, whose father and stepfather are both veterans with prosthetics, wanted to do something for all soldiers who sustain serious injury in the line of duty. "I felt it was important to bring awareness and support to these heroes who fight for our freedoms as silent warriors, and sacrifice so much of themselves each and every day," Courtney said.

With help from her mother and a friend, Courtney designed a Web site at to solicit donations, and began planning a series of fund-raising events, including a golf tournament, a family luncheon, and a beauty pageant. The proceeds have gone to the American Legion's Heroes to Hometowns program, which establishes a support network and coordinates resources for severely injured service members returning home, and to Sew Much Comfort, which designs and makes adaptable clothing for service members with prosthetics. "What I can do will never compare to what they have sacrificed, but I will show them that I am appreciative of all they do to protect the freedoms I have every day," Courtney said.