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State Honoree

Savannah Gabrielle Gore

Muldrow, Oklahoma

Savannah Gabrielle Gore, 17, of Muldrow, Oklahoma, a senior at Muldrow High School, has raised almost $50,000 for veterans’ causes over the past nine years by singing in more than 200 benefit concerts, selling CDs of her Christmas songs, and producing an annual holiday musical. Both of Savannah Gabrielle’s grandfathers and several uncles served in the military, and one of her earliest memories is of singing to veterans. “I understood that their service changed their personality in deep and meaningful ways,” she said. “I saw that they and their fellow veterans often retreated socially, spending time lost in thought and memories.” But when Savannah Gabrielle would start singing, they would clap and sing along. “I knew I had a talent that I could use for good,” she said, so she created a foundation called “Healing Heroes’ Hearts.”

At first, Savannah Gabrielle says, running her foundation was easy: She would call a local nursing home or VFW, schedule a date to sing, practice her songs, and then show up to perform. But the work increased as her desire to make an impact grew. She began recruiting volunteers to distribute fliers promoting her shows, sell tickets, design stage sets, and sometimes, even act in her musicals. She also started a website to sell T-shirts and her CDs to benefit veterans and raise awareness of the trauma they often face after returning from active duty. Since she began, Savannah Gabrielle has raised funds to place wreaths on veterans’ gravestones, renovate a local veterans’ theatre, expand a crowded veterans’ cemetery, and purchase new computer monitors, furniture and televisions for a nonprofit that helps veterans adjust to civilian life. She estimates that her efforts have reached 2,300 individuals and 16,000 families annually, and involved more than 550 local volunteers.