There are a lot of great children in the world, and many of them belong to military families.
Every year, seven of those children set themselves apart from the rest to earn the Military Child of the Year award. A winner is chosen from each of the service branches, and then a seventh is recognized for innovation.
The students, ranging in age from 13-18, get to attend a gala in their honor on April 19 in Washington, D.C. They’re recognized for their leadership, volunteerism, academics, extracurricular activities and other criteria, all on top of the consistent changes they face in their daily lives.
As military kids, these students have often moved several times and had at least one parent leave for a long deployment — and yet they still excel in class and after-school activities, all while holding leadership positions in school or community groups.
Each student is also awarded $10,000, a new laptop and other donated gifts.
So without further ado, here are the winners for 2018!
Rebekah Paxton, 17, of Harrisonville, Missouri
Rebekah hopes to one day make a career out of raising awareness of the plight of wounded veterans and their families.
She knows all about that, of course. Her father served 19 years as a combat medic before being medically retired. He’s suffered from PTSD and traumatic brain injury, and he’s also a cancer survivor. So she spent much of her youth taking care of her younger siblings, getting them ready for school and taking them to sporting events.
Rebekah has volunteered more than 800 hours over the years, including at a dance studio where she works with children, and at vacation bible school for five churches. She’s a Girl Scout, a Cub Scout troop volunteer, she raises money for the Future Farmers of America, and oh yeah — she also does track, tennis, soccer AND cross country, and was a yearbook editor and writer for her school newspaper.
This high school senior eventually wants to become a neurosurgeon. Rebekah’s already won a Medical Science Award of Excellence. While she’s currently being homeschooled, she’s also taking AP courses and dual enrollment classes at Missouri Southern State University.
I’d say she has what it takes to reaching her goals!
Isabelle Richards, 13, of Jamul, California
Isabelle is no stranger to the military or this award, being as one of her brothers, Nate Richards, won it in 2012. She’s just as deserving this year.
At the ripe old age of 13, Isabelle already has a growing enterprise that helps support wounded warriors. She wanted to personally thank injured vets for their selfless sacrifices, so she created Cards and Cupcakes, a nonprofit that sends homemade greeting cards and cupcakes to healing heroes. It’s already expanded outside of Southern California up the entire West Coast and even the Midwest, where students in other schools participate.
That’s not her only venture, though. Isabelle, the daughter of a senior chief petty officer, also founded and runs the Dove Self-Esteem project at her school, and she’s also a peer mentor – a highly coveted position that helps students deal with crises.
Isabelle has four other brothers who have served as active-duty military. She attends eighth grade at High Tech Middle School in San Diego, where she has a perfect 4.0 grade-point average. When she’s not running any major projects, she’s in the dance studio, helping injured vets at San Diego’s Freedom Station, or volunteering with the USO San Diego.
Joshua Frawley, 15, of Jacksonville, North Carolina
Josh is a freshman at White Oak High School, where he gets excellent grades and is on the varsity swim team. But his passion for helping others is where he really excels.
The first place he does that is in his own home. Josh’s mother suffers from cancer, so she and his father, a medically retired Marine Corps gunnery sergeant, often travel long distances for her treatments. When they’re gone, he helps his grandmother take care of his 12-year-old sister, who looks up to him.
Josh tutors other students on several subjects, all while taking honors classes and a four-year advanced placement program that focuses on his future career as an engineer.
This summer, Josh will be a youth mentor at a camp for military children called Camp Odyssey Youth Leadership in Pennsylvania. He’s attended twice before as a camper, so he’ll really be able to give advice on the many facets of growing up with a military parent.
Josh is also active in his church youth group and is a Students Against Violence Everywhere ambassador, helping to work on projects that promote positive peer influences, violence prevention and anti-bullying. He brings a lot to the table as far as spreading autism awareness goes, too, since he’s got Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of high-functioning autism.
Clearly, that’s not keeping him from accomplishing anything!
Eve Glenn, 16, of Tampa, Florida
Eve might only be 16, but she’s wise beyond her years.
The daughter of an Air Force lieutenant colonel, Eve is a senior at T.R. Robinson High School, where she’s been ranked No. 1 in her class for several years running and was recently named the 2018 Traditional Valedictorian. Her PSAT score is in the top 2.5 percent worldwide, and she recently became the first Department of Defense Education Activity student to be awarded the AP College Board Capstone Diploma.
Whew! Impressive, right? Except she’s got more in the tanks. Eve also holds impressive stats for her volunteerism.
She’s given up 1,900 hours since the summer before her ninth-grade year volunteering at school, with religious organizations, the USO and other groups that help military families. She’s tutored students in STEM subjects and has won several major awards for her independent scientific research.
As if there weren’t enough hours in the day, Eve also has a lot of extracurriculars. She’s been a competitive Irish dancer and has lettered in flag football, soccer and is a competitive cheerleader.
Roark Corson, 17, of Virginia Beach, Virginia
Roark is a standout when it comes to community service, school and sports, but one of his biggest passions is speaking out about youth mental illness.
The 17-year-old Ocean Lakes High School student lost two friends to suicide in three years, so he started volunteering with the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the I Need a Lighthouse Foundation, which focuses on suicide prevention. He’s become a teen leader at NAMI, where he raises funds, manages their online calendar, takes part in conferences and speaks at events dispelling the stigma around youth depression and suicide.
Roark’s academics are just as impressive. He won first place in a regional science fair his junior year, as well as the Tidewater Robotics and Maker Entrepreneur Challenge in 2017. He also wrote a scientific article that’s won so much acclaim it’s been accepted for publication in the Journal of Emerging Investigators. He earned the prestigious Princeton Book Award his junior year, is a National Merit Scholarship finalist, and get this — he scored a perfect 36 on his ACT.
Roark is also an Eagle Scout, a varsity crew team captain, and he’s the son of a doctor and a Coast Guard captain.
Roark has lived in seven places in his short life, but he’s embraced all of them, having organized food drives, winter clothing drives for the homeless, built gardens at inner-city schools, and he’s helped promote literacy by volunteering at a public library’s reading program.
Aaron Hall, 16, of Coarsegold, California
Aaron is an accomplished student athlete who has proven to be a leader on and off the field.
Aaron was the captain of Minarets High School’s football and cross-country teams in year’s past, but his current sports focus is baseball. He’s his high school team captain but also plays for three other competitive teams, including the Miami Marlins scout team. He was also a leader for the Fresno USA baseball team during its world tournament in Korea and Japan.
Aaron’s athleticism isn’t his only impressive attribute, though. He’s currently ranked first in his class in academics and is the associated student body vice president. He’s also in a ton of other clubs, including the Key Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, National Honor Society and the California Scholarship Federation – he’s the president for each of them.
Aaron has used his love for baseball to do good in the military community in which he lives. Two years ago, he started an annual baseball military appreciation game to honor military personnel and veterans and to raise money for an organization that raises service dogs for service members and veterans with PTSD.
We’re sure Aaron’s parents are very proud of his accomplishments!
Shelby Barber, 17, of Ewa Beach, Hawaii
Last – but definitely not least – Shelby won the innovation award this year for a device she’s creating to help children suffering from severe allergies. The self-distributing device melds together the features of two current devices and has shown experts that she has vast potential in the health care profession.
Shelby is the daughter of an Air Force tech sergeant and has always loved the medical field. Since she’s an allergy sufferer, the idea came to her naturally.
“Children in elementary schools are my target audience because I want them to feel safe when having to use lifesaving equipment so they can use it on their own if they’re in a situation they would need to use it in,” Shelby said. “Making equipment that deals with needles needs to be as user-friendly as possible for the safety of the person getting injected and the distributor.”
To add to her accolades, Shelby was also chosen for the National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists Award of Excellence. An avid churchgoer, she earned the Presidential Award and the Young Womanhood Recognition award from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Shelby earns excellent grades at James Campbell High School and is a member of the National Honor Society. She loves to volunteer, too, having helped with the Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity and the March of Dimes.
As part of her award, Shelby will get to work with defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton to further develop her device. She’s hoping it will help better people’s everyday lives.
Congrats to all of this year’s winners!!
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