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National Honoree

Photo of National Honoree Zachary Rice

Zachary Rice

New Jersey

Zachary Rice, 13, of Long Valley, N.J., an eighth-grader at Long Valley Middle School, initiated an annual 5K run/walk that has raised more than $50,000 over the past three years to provide gaming systems and other fun distractions for young patients at Goryeb Children's Hospital in Morristown. Zach spent a lot of time in the hospital during fourth and fifth grade due to a painful hip infection and a subsequent debilitating bone condition. His father, however, made it a little easier for him by bringing his gaming system from home. "I quickly learned how important being distracted from pain can be to a child in the hospital," said Zach. When he returned home, he announced that he wanted to buy gaming systems for all the kids in the hospital.

Zach and his mother agreed that a good way to do that would be to raise money with a 5K race. They mapped out a route, set a date, reserved a park and put together sponsorship packets for local businesses. Zach also secured donations of food and refreshments, and held a contest for kids at local schools to determine the design of the event's official T-shirt. Zach had to undergo surgery just a month before the race, but despite having not walked in seven months, he managed to walk the entire course on race day, crossing the finish line to cheers and tears. More than 250 people participated in the event, and enough money was raised to purchase gaming systems for every room at the children's hospital. Zach's "Action for Distraction 5K" has been staged twice since then, raising more funds for other forms of distraction at the hospital, such as art and music programs, as well as for upkeep of its gaming systems.