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State Honoree

Abby Ottenbacher

South Dakota

Abby Ottenbacher, 13, of Eureka, S.D., a seventh-grader at Eureka Junior High School, raised $2,300 for the American Cancer Society and donated her hair to Locks of Love to benefit cancer victims after her aunt succumbed to the disease at the age of 42. "My Aunt Sharlene's death left two of my very young cousins without a mother," said Abby. "This just broke my heart to know that so many people suffered from this."

Abby learned about Locks of Love from a local beautician, and decided to have all her hair cut off so it could be donated to the organization, which uses real human hair to make wigs for children undergoing chemotherapy. Wanting to do more, Abby began raising money for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. The first year she sold candles and collected $1,200 for cancer research. In her second year she peddled frozen cookie dough door-to-door, sold smoothies and desserts at a local grocery store, and gave her friends empty film containers to be filled with quarters, raising another $1,100. "I can only hope that I have inspired others to get involved in fighting this awful disease," said Abby.