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National Honoree

Photo of National Honoree Paloma Rambana

Paloma Rambana

Tallahassee, Florida

Paloma Rambana, 12, of Tallahassee, Fla., a seventh-grader at Maclay School, lobbied legislators, led rallies, gave speeches, created a website and generated media publicity to help secure $1.25 million in state funding for visually impaired children between the ages of 6 and 13. Paloma, who has a congenital eye condition that gives her fuzzy vision, uses a video magnifier to help her read and see around her classroom. But when her magnifier broke, she wasn’t able to get another one because visually impaired kids in her age group don’t get state aid for training and equipment outside of school, she said. “It’s important that kids like me have the tools they need to be successful in school.”

Paloma met with dozens of state legislators, her governor and congressmen to explain the situation, organized two rallies in Tallahassee and made T-shirts for the attendees, and spoke to many groups about the issue. She also wrote an op-ed piece for her local newspaper, set up a website, and recorded a radio public service announcement. Her “Fund the Gap” campaign began to pay off when Florida’s governor signed off on $1.25 million in funding, with almost half of that continuing each year. “Sometimes I get upset because I can’t see as well as other kids,” said Paloma, “but then I think about how so many other kids can’t see as well as I do, and I want to help them.”