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State Honoree

Connor Dantzler

Maryland

Connor Dantzler, 14, of Damascus, Md., an eighth-grader at John T. Baker Middle School, has distributed 5,000 joke books to patients, their families, and caregivers at hospitals and care centers throughout Maryland as part of his "Health Through Humor" program. "I thought that if I could bring a smile to a sick or injured person, even if for just a while, then that brief distraction from their condition could be helpful to their recovery," said Connor. "I've always enjoyed reading joke books, and thought that others might like them, too."

Connor contacts the public relations staff at hospitals and assisted-living facilities to explain his program and schedule his visits. When his parents drive him on his excursions after school and on weekends, he not only delivers his joke books, but visits with patients to read the jokes and share some laughter. Connor plans to continue his program, and perhaps expand it by encouraging other teens to start chapters in their areas. "I've shared a smile and a positive moment with a lot of people," said Connor. "I hope that these efforts have made a difference to those who really needed something to laugh about."