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Winners of 15th Annual Kids are Heroes Campaign Announced|
TAMPA, Fla. (February 20, 2012) – St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital today announced the winners of its annual Kids are Heroes campaign. During a special ceremony Tampa Bay Lightning Center and Kids are Heroes Spokeschampion Steven Stamkos helped St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital congratulate the winners in three age categories.
During a six-week nomination period, parents, teachers, guidance counselors and neighbors submitted stories highlighting heroic and selfless deeds of 113 local children ages 5 to 18 years old. In November, Stamkos helped patients of St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital choose the winners in each age group. Since 1996, St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital's annual “Kids are Heroes” program has recognized more than 1,300 children between the ages of 5 and 18 from Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas and Polk counties who have performed heroic deeds, displayed acts of selflessness and demonstrated good citizenship during the past year.
Some examples of past winners include children who have pulled an accident victim from a burning car, saved a sibling from a dog attack, donated their time or money to a charitable organization, befriended a special needs student in their classroom, donated their hair to make wigs for cancer patients and called 911 to help their relative suffering from a heart attack.
(Editor’s Note: The neighborhood and county for each winner are in parenthesis next to their name for those media outlets with several bureaus.)
Winners in the 5-8 Year Old Category
SECOND PLACE – Jack Hall, St. Petersburg (Pinellas) This hero is constantly putting others' needs before his own. He befriended a special needs student in his class and often invites him over to his house. He also enlisted his family’s help with transportation so that the other student was able to attend football games. He is often recognized for his compassion, and makes a point to include everyone when playing games and is the first to offer help whenever it is needed.
FIRST PLACE – Connor Rakoczy, Odessa (Pasco) When this hero learned of a family who lost everything due to a house fire, he was anxious to find some way to help. By selling gum and collecting donations, this second grader was able to donate more than $700 for the family in need.
Winners in the 9-12 Year Old Category
SECOND PLACE – Ainsleigh Wall, Land O’ Lakes (Pasco) After hearing a sermon at church about giving back, this hero was inspired to make a difference. Her Sunday school class had tried but was unsuccessful at raising money to buy a cow for Heifer International. She started a week-long event at school called “Candy Canes for Cows,” selling candy canes for 25 cents. She used her own money to buy the first round of 300 candy canes, and sold out on the first day. By the end of the week she sold more than 4,000 candy canes and raised enough money to buy a cow, a goat, a pig, and some chickens for Heifer International, who donated the animals to families in Africa.
FIRST PLACE – Jared Upmann, Valrico (Hillsborough) After this hero's aunt had a heart attack in July, his family took in his five cousins. When his parents separated a couple months later and his mom was struggling to keep up with running the household while working full-time and taking care of nine kids, this hero wanted to find a way to help. Knowing it would be a big help to his mother, he learned how to cook. He now cooks a nutritious meal every night for his family, and enjoys planning out the meals in advance.
SECOND PLACE – Jack Hardee, Plant City (Hillsborough) This hero is actively involved in the Wounded Warrior Project. After hearing that a veteran from his hometown lost both legs and an arm during an explosion, he sent more than 100 letters to family and friends asking for $10 donations to help remodel the soldier's home to be handicap accessible. So far he has collected $500 for the veteran and his family. He also volunteers at the Steppin' Stone Farms, a nonprofit home for potential runaway and troubled teen girls.
FIRST PLACE – Dustin Bush, New Port Richey (Pasco) When their boat capsized 11 miles offshore, this hero helped save two of the men and bravely tried to keep a third man from drowning. None of the boaters were wearing life jackets, and once overboard the rough waters quickly separated them. Desperate to save his fellow boaters, this hero swam back and forth finding items for the other men to float on, and treaded water for more than an hour before being rescued.