Our Military Kid of the Month
Briana Sanders-Easley is Our Military Kid of the Month for December 2013! Briana is 18 years old and lives in San Antonio, Texas. She received a grant to play on her high school’s basketball team because her father is a Wounded Warrior who was injured while serving in Iraq. Her amazing skills on the team earned her recognition as an All Team District player, and she even won two awards for her abilities on the court.
When Briana’s father was injured, she stepped into a leadership role in her household while her mother focused on her father’s care. As the oldest child, this meant watching over her siblings and helping out where needed. The leadership experience translated to other areas of her life, including the classroom, where Briana maintains a 3.75 GPA. While she and her family have faced many hardships, including homelessness, she credits the Our Military Kids grant for giving her the opportunity to pursue her passion of basketball and the hope of taking her athletic talents to the next level. Congratulations, Briana!
Jacob, Ian, Tristan, and Rowan Riggs are Our Military Kids of the Month for November 2013! The Riggs family lives in DeForest, Wisconsin, and their father, Major Scott Riggs, deployed overseas with the Air National Guard to support our country. Each of the Riggs children has received grants from Our Military Kids to participate in activities during their father’s many deployments, which have helped the many struggles the family has faced. Scott was handed a cancer diagnosis in 2007, and has since fully recovered. The family’s home also caught fire, resulting in a six-month hotel stay while Scott was deployed. Despite a sometimes rocky road, the kids have prevailed.
Jacob, 12, takes on a lot of responsibilities around the house. He does laundry for the family, shovels the mountains of snow they receive in Wisconsin, and takes out the trash. He also volunteers at a nearby shelter, helping to clean, set up, and prepare meals for the less fortunate. Jacob received a grant for karate and recently earned his black belt. He is also part of his karate school’s leadership program, attending classes five days a week and assisting other students.
Ian, 10, helps his older brother with the big chores around the house, and also volunteers at his school as a peer mediator. He patrols the playground during recess to make sure kids are having fun and being safe. Ian received his grant to take guitar lessons, and has made great strides in his musical abilities. He practices every day and has acquired a lot of self confidence by showing off his new skills. He’s also growing out his hair to have a wig made for his younger sister, who has a condition that affects her hair growth.
Tristan, 7, helps out in his classroom by assisting other students and goes out of his way to make sure his classmates feel included. He recently came up with a plan to ensure his whole family eats healthy – even planning menus and making lunch for his siblings. Tristan also received a grant for karate classes, and has enjoyed a boost in self confidence as a result.
Rowan, 6, keeps a very positive outlook on life. In the past two years, her dad has only been home for five months. She misses him greatly, but always keeps a positive attitude. Rowan also received a grant for karate classes, which have helped her deal with her health issues. Karate has taught her to understand her physical limitations and work through her problems.
Congratulations to Jacob, Ian, Tristan, and Rowan Riggs!
Grant Bogdanski is Our Military Kid of the Month for October 2013! Grant is 6 years old and lives in Wadsworth, Ohio. He received a grant to take martial arts classes while his father was deployed to Kuwait with the Army Reserves. During his father’s deployment, Grant made several advances in the belt ranking system. He was even selected by the headmaster of the Tae Kwon Do school to be a part of the school’s demonstration team, making him the youngest member and the only one amongst his peers to be selected.
Along with learning physical skills, Grant also improved his listening capabilities and his maturity level increased while participating in martial arts. Without the grant from Our Military Kids, he never would have had the opportunity to try this new activity and unleash his hidden potential. Grant knows he is able to participate in Tae Kwon Do because of his father’s service to our country. He got his entire class involved in a project to make Christmas cards for his dad’s unit in Kuwait, and proudly shows off a photo of all of the cards displayed in the unit’s base. Congratulations, Grant!
Bailee Spoerle is Our Military Kid of the Month for September 2013! Bailee is 10 years old and lives in Tomball, Texas. She received a grant to attend a softball camp and play a season of softball because her father is recovering from injuries sustained while serving with the Army in Iraq. It hasn’t been an easy journey for the family as they deal with his PTSD and traumatic brain injury, but Bailee’s softball has been beneficial for everyone. Her father is a big baseball fan, which allows the two to bond over a shared passion. It also gets the family out of the house to Bailee’s games, allowing them to meet more families in their community as they acclimate to life away from a military base. The grant for softball also allowed Bailee to meet new friends and forget some of the challenges at home.
Aside from her time on the field, Bailee is a very responsible young lady. She also stays active with cheerleading and volleyball, works hard to get good grades in school, and volunteers with a group that brings wounded service members on hunting and fishing trips. She even helps with chores around the house, and always takes the opportunity to educate people at her school and in her community about the effects of PTSD and TBI on our veterans. Congratulations, Bailee!
Paul Boelk is Our Military Kid of the Month for August 2013! Paul is 8 years old and lives in North Branch, Minnesota. He received his grant to take Tae Kwon Do classes at his local studio because his father is deployed overseas with the Army National Guard. Since Paul was born, his father has spent two years being deployed overseas and nearly another two years in training. Having the grant for Tae Kwon Do helped him develop discipline and leadership skills in his father’s absence. According to Paul’s instructor, he helps others in the class who need assistance and even lends a hand to the kids working to earn belts Paul has already mastered.
While he loves to spend time in the Tae Kwon Do studio, Paul also keeps busy in other areas of life. He is an active member of his church and with cub scouts, where he works hard to sell popcorn and collect donations for military programs. In fact, he collected the most money of anyone in his den! Paul also works hard in the classroom, especially when it comes to educating his peers on military life. Congratulations, Paul!
Shevaneil Lawrence is Our Military Kid of the Month for July 2013! Shevaneil is 17 years old and lives in Palm Bay, Florida. She received her grant for cheerleading when her mother Cheryl was injured while serving our country in Afghanistan with the Army Reserve. Cheerleading became a way for Shevaneil to express herself while enhancing her team work abilities and making her a more disciplined athlete. She is dedicated to cheering and loves to help her teammates improve on their skills, too. Having this positive outlet allowed her to better assist her mother through recovery.
When she’s not showing her school spirit or cheering on a sports team, Shevaneil keeps very busy. She is also in her high school orchestra and volunteers her time with the Military Guardian Angels, where she is able to give back to her community and help other military children who may be struggling with a parent’s deployment or recovery. On top if it all, she’s able to hold a 3.7 GPA. Congratulations, Shevaneil!
Nathan Swartz is Our Military Kid of the Month for June 2013! Nathan is 12 years old and lives in Duncansville, Pennsylvania. He received a grant to attend a wrestling camp in Virginia with his middle school team because his father is a Wounded Warrior. Nathan has been a wrestler for seven years, but this was his first opportunity to attend this type of camp. It allowed him to have a successful transition from elementary to middle school wrestling, giving him confidence and determination.
Nathan plans to attend more wrestling camps this summer, and dreams of becoming a state champion and collegiate wrestler, and someday even making it to the Olympics. He is so passionate about wrestling, he launched a campaign to save Olympic wrestling before it was reinstated by the Olympic Committee. When Nathan isn’t facing off with a competitor on the mat, he’s helping his mother around the house, excelling in school, and teaching himself how to speak German. Congratulations, Nathan!
Elizabeth and Anastasia Leu are Our Military Kids of the Month for May 2013! Elizabeth is 11 years old and Anastasia is 8 years old, and the girls live in Mason City, Iowa. They both received grants to take gymnastics classes while their father was deployed with the Army National Guard to Cuba. Being able to take gymnastics classes was very beneficial for both girls. The classes helped Elizabeth have an outlet to keep her active and happy while developing her tumbling skills, and allowed Anastasia to overcome her shyness and perform in front of groups.
Both girls are very active in their communities. Elizabeth helps with chores around the house and in taking care of her three siblings. She also works with special education students in her school and is part of the reading buddy program where she reads books to younger students. Anastasia has helped her mother in taking care of her ailing grandmother and assists her sister in looking after the two youngest siblings. Both Elizabeth and Anastasia volunteer at different community events, especially with fundraisers that help their school and a local food bank. Congratulations to Elizabeth and Anastasia!
Karen Koopmans is Our Military Kid of the Month for April 2013! Karen is 8 years old and lives in Fort Worth, Texas. She received a grant from Our Military Kids to take ballet classes while her father was deployed to Kuwait with the Air Force Reserves. Receiving the grant made Karen even more excited and passionate about her dancing, and she’s proud to tell people that she gets to dance because her daddy is in the Air Force.
When she’s not in dance class, Karen is an active girl. She organized a Christmas yard sale in her neighborhood so those who were financially struggling would have inexpensive gift options for the holidays. She even gave away some of her own jewelry, stuffed animals, and clothing for the yard sale. She also helps clean up litter on the highway near her grandparents’ house and separates the items for recycling. She even goes to the local pet store to play with the animals and show them some love while they wait for adoption. On top of it all, Karen is a straight A student. Congratulations, Karen!
Alex Freeman is Our Military Kid of the Month for March 2013! Alex is 12 years old and lives in Clearwater, Florida. He was adopted by his parents when he was six and a half years old, after spending much of his childhood bouncing between five foster homes and a group home. While he hasn’t always been a part of a military family, he is very proud to have his dad serving overseas. His father deployed just two days after Alex’s adoption was finalized, and Alex makes sure he sends thank-you letters to service members overseas who defending our country. He also makes an effort to talk to other military kids to let them know they’re not alone.
Because he constantly moved in early childhood, Alex’s academics had been neglected. Thanks to a grant from Our Military Kids, Alex was able to get back on track while attending the Brain Balance Achievement Center. Alex now loves to read, which has brought about so many positive changes in his academics. Prior to the grant, Alex’s reading level was not up to par. Now, he’s reading at an 8th grade level in the 6th grade. The confidence he received from this grant has helped him in all aspects of his life. Congratulations, Alex!
Ronald Lee is Our Military Kid of the Month for February 2013! Ronald is 13 years old and lives in Miami Gardens, Florida. He received a grant to further his music education while his mother deployed to Iraq with the Army Reserve. It was a challenging experience for both of them, especially because Ronald’s father is not in his life, so his only parent deployed to a war zone. Fortunately, the grant from Our Military Kids made the process easier while Ronald stayed with other family members.
Ronald’s mother told him she had high expectations while she was overseas, and he did not disappoint. He was able to raise his grades during the entire deployment, keeping himself on academic high ground. He also excelled with his music, and became first chair in the violin section of the South Florida Youth Symphony. Not only was this a monumental achievement for Ronald, but it also gave his mother bragging rights while she was deployed and allowed her to have peace of mind. Congratulations, Ronald!
Emma Lichtenfeld is Our Military Kid of the Month for January 2013! Emma is 13 years old and lives in Lincoln, Nebraska. She is a baton twirler, and received a grant to take baton classes while her father was deployed to Afghanistan with the Army National Guard. The grant gave Emma the opportunity to learn new tricks that she can apply when she tries out for her high school team next year. The grant was a big benefit to Emma according to her mom, who noticed an attitude improvement in her daughter during practices after receiving the grant. It also helped to record videos of Emma’s twirling to send to her dad overseas.
When she’s not twirling, Emma plays the flute in her school band and has been working hard to improve her grades, recently landing on the B honor roll. She also keeps busy at home doing chores and taking care of the family pets. She even has a plan to turn her love of animals into a career, hoping to receive a college scholarship for baton twirling so she can turn her dream of becoming a veterinarian into reality. Congratulations, Emma!
Shelby Chaney is Our Military Kid of the Month for December 2012! Shelby is 15 years old and lives in Auburn, Alabama. When her father deployed to Iraq with the Army National Guard, she received a grant to attend the American Ballet Theatre’s Summer Intensive Program. Since Shelby lives for ballet, being able to attend this program was a dream come true. It allowed her to perfect her technique and become a better dancer, focusing on an activity she loves during the deployment. Aside from her camp, she also studies and performs with the Montgomery Ballet in Alabama, a 60-mile drive from their house, where she is enrolled in the most advanced classes. She dances at least 4 days a week for 3 hours.
When she’s not stretching or practicing, Shelby is focused on school and family. She has earned a straight A average in her classes for the past several years. On top of that, she took care of her younger siblings during the deployment while her mother worked as a delivery nurse at their local hospital, which required cooking, cleaning, and helping them with their school work. Congratulations, Shelby!
Christopher Greene is Our Military Kid of the Month for November 2012. Christopher is 15 years old and lives in Cary, North Carolina. He received a grant to take private baseball classes with minor league players, who were able to share their technical expertise and establish a relationship with him while his father was deployed in the Middle East with the National Guard. Christopher didn’t start playing baseball until the age of 12, and while he had raw talent, the classes allowed him to get the training he needed to take his game to the next level. He hopes to use these skills and continue playing through high school, college, and hopefully even the professional level.
When he isn’t at the batting cages or on the diamond, Christopher is an active member of his community. He helps his elderly neighbors with gardening in the spring and shovels their snow in the winters. He also volunteers as a camp counselor each summer, working with 200 children between the ages of 5 and 10. He even teaches some of the neighborhood children how to play sports and acts as a role model, encouraging them to be the best they can be. Congratulations, Christopher!
Catherine Morse is Our Military Kid of the Month for October 2012! Catherine is 17 years old and lives in Hope, Rhode Island. She received a grant to take Irish dance classes while her father deployed to Afghanistan, one of three deployments her family faced in just eight years. Along with her dancing, Catherine stays involved with the arts by performing in her school’s annual theater production. She is also an active member of her school’s swim team.
Catherine is very involved in her community. She has been an alter server at her church since the fourth grade. She also volunteers to tutor inner city school children who need help with their academics. She even holds an important position on the Rhode Island Military Youth Council, giving presentations about military children in the community and volunteering at Yellow Ribbon events. She even runs a Facebook page for her dad’s unit to make sure everyone stays in communication. On top if it all, she holds down a job at a local café to help out her family and give her some extra spending money. Congratulations, Catherine!
Hannah Brewster is Our Military Kid of the Month for September 2012! Hannah is 17 years old and lives in Worcester, Massachusetts. When her father deployed to Afghanistan with the Army National Guard, Hannah received a grant to take part in a club field hockey program. The grant covered six months of the year-long program, and helped her go to a national field hockey tournament in Arizona. There, her team won a gold medal in its division, earning them national recognition. Several college coaches approached Hannah and have expressed interest.
Outside of her club team, Hannah also plays on her school’s varsity field hockey team, along with outdoor track. She’s also the president of her class and holds down a 3.75 grade point average. When she’s not at school or on the field, Hannah volunteers with the local veterans chapter and is a big help to her mom around the house. As the oldest sibling, she helps everyone with laundry, cooks dinner, and is the homework helper for her brothers and sisters. Congratulations, Hannah!
Megan and Camryn Shepard are Our Military Kids of the Month for August 2012! Megan is 18 and Camryn is 13, and the sisters are from Manchester, Tennessee. When their father faced his second deployment last year with the Army National Guard, both girls received grants for music – Megan for flute lessons and Camryn for guitar lessons. They are both very active with music, playing in their school bands and volunteering to play at their churches. Megan’s grant gave her the boost she needed to prepare for college auditions and helped her maintain her first chair status at school. Camryn’s grant allowed her to receive extra instruction, letting her to pave the way for a new guitar section in her school’s band.
Outside of their musical talents, the sisters stay quite active. Both receive straight A’s in school and take part in their church’s theater program. Megan is involved with her school’s culinary art competition team and holds down a job at a local restaurant. Camryn is a cheerleader at her school and volunteers as an assistant cheer coach for her church’s basketball program. Congratulations to Megan and Camryn!
Chelsea Claggett is Our Military Kid of the Month for July 2012! Chelsea is 17 years old and lives in Concord, Massachusetts. When her father deployed to Afghanistan with the Army Reserves, Chelsea received a grant to continue swimming with one of her two competitive swim teams. She has immersed herself in the water – literally and figuratively! On one of her teams, Chelsea sits on the Inclusion Committee, working to foster diversity in New England’s swimming community. She also helped to organize International Water Safety Day throughout the entire region. Outside of her two swim teams, Chelsea earned her certifications to become a lifeguard and a swim instructor for inner-city kids, and currently holds a job performing both tasks.
When she’s not at the pool, Chelsea is working hard to make her dream of attending college for exercise science a reality. She volunteers as a teen buddy with at-risk students in her school, participated in a foreign exchange program in Ecuador, and recently attended the National Youth Leaders Conference in Washington, DC. Congratulations, Chelsea!
John Schmidt is Our Military Kid of the Month for June 2012! John is 18 years old and lives in Wichita, Kansas. When his father deployed to Iraq with the Army National Guard, John received a grant that paid for his debate team’s trip to the National Forensic League National Tournament in Dallas. He has been involved with debate since his freshman year of high school and has seen much success. John now serves as a mentor and junior coach to the younger students on his team.
Along with his commitment to debate, John was selected to be part of the spring fellowship program with President Obama’s campaign, where he works as a community organizer after school. Additionally, John is the man of the house, even after his father’s return from Iraq. Shortly after he came back, the military relocated the family to Iowa, which happened in the middle of John’s senior year. Since he is legally an adult, the family let him stay behind to finish the school year and compete his debate team. He rents out a room and does all of his own cooking and cleaning, which is good practice for college. Congratulations, John!
Joshua and Jacob Quinn are Our Military Kids of the Month for May 2012! Joshua is 12 years old and Jacob is 8, and the brothers live in Suffield, Connecticut. When their father deployed with the Navy Reserve to Afghanistan, Joshua received a grant for piano lessons and Jacob received a grant for swimming lessons. Joshua’s piano lessons helped him to improve on his skills so he could participate in competitions, while Jacob’s swim lessons have turned him into a talented swimmer and increased his confidence.
Being involved in activities was extremely important for Joshua and Jacob, as the deployment proved to be very difficult for the family. Joshua suffered from heart failure shortly before his father left, which came as a shock since he was a healthy and active child. He has since made a full recovery, but the deployment added extra challenges for the family. Shortly thereafter, the boys’ grandmother was diagnosed with a brain tumor and died a month later. The grants provided by Our Military Kids helped Joshua and Jacob focus on positive activities they enjoy doing, and have helped them through this difficult time. Congratulations, Joshua and Jacob!
Collin and Hunter Squires are Our Military Kids of the Month for April 2012! Collin is 14 and Hunter is 10, and the brothers live in Lewisville, Idaho. Both brothers received grants for music while their father was deployed to Afghanistan with the Air Force Reserve. Collin, who already played the piano and trumpet, expanded his music skills to learn the guitar with his grant, while Hunter took up the fiddle after some violin lessons with his mother.
Both boys are very involved in their communities. They are active in boy scouts – Collin has 19 merit badges, went on a 100-mile trek with his troop, and volunteers to help the elderly with housework and chores, while Hunter helped his troop send goods to Afghanistan where his father was serving. The boys also are active in 4H, raising hogs, rabbits, and poultry. Collin sold two hogs in the market which helped pay for his guitar, and Hunter received an honorable mention for his showmanship. Outside of their activities, both boys take on a lot of responsibility at home in their father’s absence. Collin and Hunter care for all of the animals on the family farm, make sure the fire is warm enough to heat the house, and shovel the snow from the driveway. Congratulations, Collin and Hunter!
Emma Mathews is Our Military Kid of the Month for March 2012! Emma is 11 years old and lives in Lexington, Kentucky. She received a grant for piano lessons while her father was deployed in Afghanistan commanding an agricultural unit. Emma has been playing piano since she was five years old and has taken the National Guild exams for the last four years. Her artistic abilities don’t stop there – Emma also plays the cello, and dances ballet, jazz, and tap while attending the School for Creative and Performing Arts, where she has been enrolled since third grade.
Outside of school, Emma is very involved in her community. She is a Girl Scout and has participated in a range of supportive community activities. She also plays soccer, writes and presents the morning announcements for her school’s TV channel, and represents her school in a reading competition. Emma also independently initiated a project with her school for environmental awareness. Congratulations, Emma!
John-Thomas Loyd is Our Military Kid of the Month for February 2012! John-Thomas received a grant for karate while his father was deployed in Afghanistan with the Army National Guard. The grant helped John-Thomas take his mind off of his dad’s absence, and allowed him to focus on getting his purple belt. It was especially helpful because John-Thomas is the only military child in his town, and no one else around him has experienced a deployment.
Aside from excelling at karate and participating in tournaments, John-Thomas is active in his community. With his church, he helped organize and Easter egg hunt for some underprivileged children. With his Cub Scout den, he sent letters and cards to his father’s unit in Afghanistan. During the holidays, he also participated in Operation Christmas Child, sending a gift to a less fortunate child in the Dominican Republic. On top of his volunteer work, John-Thomas also gets good grades in school and is enrolled in an accelerated math class. Congratulations, John-Thomas!
Harley Margaret Kinney is Our Military Kid of the Month for January 2012! Harley is 13 years old and lives in Ashland, Wisconsin. She received her grant to attend a hockey camp while her father was deployed in Iraq with the Army National guard. Deployment is especially hard for Harley and her family, as they are Native American and live within the boundaries of a reservation, where there are no other military families.
While the youth on a reservation face many negative influences, Harley rises above and stays very active. Aside from hockey, she plays volleyball, soccer, and softball. She is on the honor roll at school, and was also nominated by her peers at school as having leadership qualities, which allowed her to attend a series of leadership seminars. Harley also donated her allowance to a charity supporting domestic abuse victims during Christmas time. Congratulations, Harley!
Mackenzie Hinderberger is Our Military Kid of the Month for December 2011! Mackenzie is 12 years old and lives in Bossier City, Louisiana. Most recently, she received a grant for dance lessons while her dad deployed with the Navy Reserves. Mackenzie is very involved with cheer and dance – she actually received her first grant in 2006 for cheer classes for one of her dad’s earlier deployments. She uses the skills she learns from her classes to perform with her school’s pep squad, and also competes with the Louisiana Rebels dance team. She’s won many medals for her dancing, but more importantly, she has learned how to be a team player and compete respectfully.
Aside from her dancing, Mackenzie is very involved in her community. She plays the flute in her school band, writes for the school newspaper, and volunteers with a community program helping with food drives, making blankets for homeless children, a race to benefit a children’s hospital, and writing cards for cancer patients and veterans. Congratulations, Mackenzie!
Adam Denning is Our Military Kid of the Month for November 2011! Adam is 9 years old and lives in Florence, Arizona. He received a grant for violin lessons while his dad deployed to Iraq with the Army National Guard, continuing the music education he’s received since age 3. Adam plays the violin at church, different events throughout the community, and has performed in three different talent shows at his school. He loves to use his music to entertain friends and visitors, and help people feel better when they’re sick or sad.
When he isn’t making music, Adam stays quite busy with other things. He is a Cub Scout, and earned his first two ranks in less than a year. He is also the captain of his baseball team, despite being the youngest and smallest player. In school, Adam earns only A’s in class and even skipped the 3rd grade per his teacher’s recommendation. He even helped to write two books that were published by his school. Back at home, Adam is very helpful to his mother, changing diapers and preparing bottles for his younger siblings. Congratulations, Adam!
Jayda Cournoyer is Our Military Kid of the Month for October 2011! Jayda is 11 years old and lives in Round Rock, Texas. She received a grant for musical theater, which was extremely helpful while her father deployed to Iraq with the Navy Reserves. He and Jayda share a love of music, which she was able to continue while he was overseas. Thanks to the grant, Jayda auditioned for and won the role of Maria in the Sound of Music. She was later accepted into a prestigious theater program and received a regional award for the first song she wrote.
Aside from her creative activities, Jayda took on a lot of responsibility to help out her family, even though she struggled with accepting the ‘unfairness’ of her dad’s deployment. He hadn’t deployed in eight years, and the family also lives four hours away from the nearest military base. Though it was a challenge adjusting, Jayda maintained her straight A’s, took on the extra chores like caring for the five family pets and washing the cars, and learned how to cook simple meals for herself and her brother. She also decided to donate her allowance money to purchase plants and chickens for families in Africa so they can create sustainable income. Congratulations, Jayda!
Taylor Canifax-Broesch is Our Military Kid of the Month for September 2011! Taylor is 16 years old and lives in Hayden, Idaho. She received a grant to attend a community center where she works out, takes classes, and is able to relax by the pool – all activities to give her some much deserved time to focus on herself, given that Taylor is so active in her community. The grant helped her while her father was recovering at home after being wounded while serving in Iraq. He has since undergone surgery on his neck, wrist, knee, and back.
Taylor is extremely active with the Army National Guard, serving as the North Idaho Regional State President for the Youth Program, and is also the Idaho State Military Youth President. She attends and holds a number of meetings to organize events such as the winter Snow Bash and the Summer Camp. Aside from these duties, Taylor tutors elementary school children in reading and math, and has logged more than 400 hours. Additionally, she works as a housekeeper for three local families and helps another with dog grooming. On top of it all, she manages to maintain a 3.9 GPA in school and plans on graduating early. Congratulations, Taylor!
Shallon Breaux is Our Military Kid of the Month for August 2011! Shallon is 12 years old and lives in Lafayette, Louisiana. He received a grant to take karate classes while his dad deployed to Iraq with the Army National Guard. Karate has helped Shallon grow from a shy boy into a talented young man, improving his self esteem and confidence. He used his karate skills to perform at a school talent show, and also travels through the community with his team to show the positive aspects of martial arts, including self defense and bully awareness.
Outside of karate, Shallon stepped up and took on a bigger role at home as the oldest child without being asked or told. He helps cook and clean so his mother can focus on his new baby sister at home and his two younger brothers. He is also very active in his school, participating in the drama club, honor band, and the French immersion program. Congratulations, Shallon!
Aaron Beavin is Our Military Kid of the Month for July 2011! Aaron is 12 years old and is from Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He received a grant to attend summer camp while his dad deployed to Iraq. The Youth Development Camp for the Tennessee Army National Guard was an important experience for Aaron, who was in the process of being adopted by his stepfather when the deployment occurred. It gave Aaron a deeper understanding of the military and improved the connection with his new father.
Additionally, Aaron was dealing with Alopecia Areata, an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss. Being able to attend camp allowed Aaron to remain resilient through a difficult time. His camp experience also helped him take on more responsibility around the house with chores like mowing the lawn and helping take care of his baby brother. It also helped his family afford private viola lessons during the school year. Congratulations, Aaron!
Aubrey Aldag is Our Military Kid of the Month for June 2011! Aubrey is eight years old and isfrom Lincoln, Nebraska. She received a grant to take gymnastics classes while her father deployed to Afghanistan. Gymnastics is just one of the many activities Aubrey is involved in – she also dances on a weekly basis, takes Spanish classes after school, and is part of her school’s cheerleading team. She even participated in a fundraiser for the PTO that helped feed the hungry.
Outside of her school, Aubrey stays active in her community. She and her family coordinated efforts to collect blankets, coats, shoes, and school supplies for children living in orphanages in Afghanistan after learning of the need from her father. Their hard work resulted in more than 150 pounds of supplies being sent overseas. Congratulations, Aubrey!
Cassandra O’Toole is Our Military Kid of the Month for May 2011. Cassandra is 18 years old and lives in Fallon, Nevada. She received a grant for vocal lessons at an opera studio while her father was on his tenth deployment to the Middle East since the September 11 attacks. Cassandra’s vocal coach rarely takes students under the age of 18, but she auditioned at 16 and was accepted. She’s been able to perform on a number of occasions, including singing the National Anthem at the Nevada Air National Guard Awards Ceremony.
Aside from singing, Cassandra is very busy at home. She has taken on extra responsibilities in her father’s absence, including all of the gardening. She planted hundreds of flower bulbs in the yard, and even splits wood to keep a fire going in the cold months. Outside of the home, Cassandra stays active in school playing basketball, track, and soccer, serving in the student government, and is the president of the drama club. Congratulations, Cassandra!
Trenedy Young is Our Military Kid of the Month for April 2011! Trenedy is 14 years old and lives in Queen Creek, Arizona. She received her grant to go on a class trip while her father deployed to Afghanistan to serve as a line medic. In his absence, Trenedy stepped up into a parental role to take care of her siblings.
Trenedy misses birthday parties, sleepovers, trips to the movies, and other activities that teenagers usually get to do. She takes care of her six year old sister and three year old brother while her mother works in the evenings. She prepares dinner for them each night, makes sure homework is done, and keeps them out of trouble. Even with all of these extra responsibilities at home, Trenedy keeps her own grades up while remaining active on her cheerleading squad, among other activities. Congratulations, Trenedy!
Ayden Rivera is Our Military Kid of the Month for March 2011! Ayden is 9 years old and lives in Gulfport, Mississippi. His stepfather deployed to Iraq, and while it was difficult for the entire family, Ayden’s grant for Tae Kwon Do made a big difference.
For Ayden, being in Tae Kwon Do helped him build self esteem and develop strength for his body and mind. It also gave him the knowledge of how to be man without his stepfather being around, and connected him with other military children who were also coping with a deployed parent. This was all extremely important for Ayden, who looks up to his stepfather and wants to be in the military just like him. Every opportunity he gets, Ayden wears a replica of his stepfather’s uniform and proclaims to everyone within earshot that he wants to be just like his hero one day. Congratulations, Ayden!
Amanda Reynolds is Our Military Kid of the Month for February 2011! Amanda is 17 years old and lives in Pollok, Texas. Her father is currently deployed to Afghanistan for the second time, and in his absence, Amanda has stepped up at home to become a role model for her four younger siblings.
Amanda received her grant to take classes and earn her certification as a SCUBA diver. When she goes to college, she hopes to study biology with a focus on marine life, and knew the SCUBA certification would help with her career goals. She learned a lot in the process, even gaining insight on college programs from a student in the class. Along with learning how to breathe underwater, Amanda is also very involved in the community. She is an active member of the local 4H club, serving as president and as a District Delegate for the county council, taking part in a wide variety of projects. Amanda also volunteers with the Texas Forestry Museum, Relay for Life, Habitat for Humanity, and Hospice. Congratulations, Amanda!
Skylar Ouart is Our Military Kid of the Month for January 2011! Skylar is 13 years old and lives in Fargo, North Dakota. His dad deployed to Iraq and was injured shortly thereafter, causing him to spend the next eight months recovering in a military medical facility 1,200 miles from the family’s home. During this time, Skylar received a grant to continue playing ice hockey, which is his favorite sport.
Skylar really stepped up to the plate while his dad was recovering. He took on family responsibilities without being asked, especially when it came to watching over his two little brothers. He picked up the slack with all of the household chores, and even baked for the family. On top of that, Skylar volunteered at his church, maintained straight A’s in school, and was elected to participate in the Leadership Youth Government Group by his teachers. All the while, he played hockey five days a week thanks to his grant, along with basketball, tennis, football, baseball, and even played an instrument in his school’s band. Congratulations, Skylar!
Zane Morales is Our Military Kid of the Month for December 2010! Zane is 7 years old and lives in Lincoln, Nebraska. His stepfather deployed to Iraq and has since returned home. Zane received his grant to play tennis. The grant kept him busy and took a great burden off of the family during the deployment. Zane was very proud to receive the grant, especially the award packet that came in the mail addressed to him. He carried it around with him for months, and wore his bandana and dog tags proudly.
Zane was an important part of keeping his family strong while his stepfather was in Iraq, comforting his mother and 4-year-old sister when they became sad about his absence. He made sure to remove a link every day from the paper chain representing the days left before dad got home, noting that it was getting shorter each day. His support also extended to his peers while they attended Family Readiness Group meetings. Zane also makes an effort to understand as much as he can about the military, watching documentaries with his mom about the equipment soldiers use overseas. Congratulations, Zane!
I’nyia Monroe is Our Military Kid of the Month for November 2010! I’nyia is 11 years old and lives in Brooklyn, New York. Her father is a Wounded Warrior after serving overseas in the Army Reserves. I’nyia received two grants to take part in martial arts, most recently earning her third degree brown belt – just one step away from becoming a black belt in karate. She also keeps busy taking swim classes, playing the violin, and singing in the school choir.
Aside from her activities, I’nyia also works hard to help others throughout her community. She volunteers with the St. Jude Cancer Society, and persuaded her older brother to shave off his braids to donate for a wig for children who have lost their hair during cancer treatment. She also took part in the “Math-a-Thon,” where she got sponsors and completed math problems to help raise money. I’nyia also worked with the American Heart Association’s Jump-a-Thon, where she raised money by jumping rope for hours on end. On top of all of this, she also read 50 books as part of the Six Flags Reader Achievement Program, going above and beyond the required 30 to receive a free pass to the park this summer. Congratulations, I’nyia!
Nathan Miller is Our Military Kid of the Month for October 2010! Nathan is 12 years old and lives in Racine, Wisconsin. His father deployed to Iraq and returned earlier this year. Nathan received his grant to play soccer on a club team, where he was the starting goalkeeper. Soccer provided him with a positive outlet to relieve his pent-up energy, while at the same time strengthening his teamwork abilities. But soccer is just one of the many things that keep Nathan busy.
Along with his soccer, Nathan also plays the trumpet in his middle school’s band. He even has time to function as a peer mediator, putting aside his own problems to help others solve theirs. Aside from activities in school, Nathan is an active member of the Boy Scouts, volunteering for community projects such as cleaning up bike trails, collecting canned goods for the homeless, organizing clothing drives, and helping Salvation Army during the holidays. Even with all of his community engagement, Nathan still maintains a 4.0 grade point average. He balanced all of these things while his father was deployed and his mother worked to complete her student teaching and was enrolled in night classes. Congratulations, Nathan!
Katie Lewis is Our Military Kid of the Month for September 2010! Katie is 16 years old and lives in Canton, Georgia. Her father deployed to Afghanistan and recently returned home. While he was serving our country, she received two grants – the first was for a driver’s education class, and the second allowed Katie to travel to Washington, DC for a class trip. It was her first visit to the nation’s capital, and an important one, as she was able to stop at Arlington National Cemetery and see a close family friend’s headstone for the first time.
Katie is a determined young lady who wanted to make her father proud while he was overseas. She is ranked 36th in her high school class and has a near-perfect grade point average. She is actively involved in the National Art Honor Society and National Society for High School Scholars, along with the art and debate clubs at her school. Her strong academic performance allowed her to make it to the final rounds of being selected for the Georgia Governor’s Honors Program. On top of it all, Katie also seeks out volunteer opportunities in the community, and has helped the FRG leader for her father’s unit. Congratulations, Katie!
Lane LeRoy is Our Military Kid of the Month for August 2010! Lane is 10 years old and lives in Gardner, Kansas. His father deployed to Afghanistan and recently returned home– one of four deployments experienced by the family. Lane received his grant for music lessons.
Lane’s interests are certainly not limited to music. He is quite the involved citizen of his community. In his elementary school, Lane is on the Student Service Team, and was the leader of assembling the Support Our Troops campaign, coaching his team members on how to get the best results. In the end, his elementary school donated more than 500 items to troops overseas. Outside of school, he initiated a yellow ribbon campaign, making sure every house in town had at least one ribbon. Lane also collected toys for orphans in Bosnia, and winter clothing for children in Serbia. Congratulations, Lane!
Madison Evans is Our Military Kid of the Month for July 2010! Madison is 13 years old and lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. Her father is currently deployed to Afghanistan. Madison received her grant for private violin lessons, and the personal attention really paid off. Her lessons allowed her to excel in her middle school orchestra and move up to second chair.
Madison doesn’t just excel in music. She’s a straight-A student, a member of the National Junior Honor Society, and enjoys volunteering throughout her community. Madison is also learning how to play golf, and has aspirations of joining a soccer league and swim team. Along with her rigorous extracurricular schedule, Madison also makes time to help her mother around the house, especially when it comes to taking care of her three-year-old sister. To top it off, Madison does everything with a smile on her face and spreads her positive energy to everyone around her. Congratulations, Madison!
Isabel Batchelor is Our Military Kid of the Month for June 2010! Isabel is 9 years old and lives in Burgaw, North Carolina. Her father is currently deployed to Iraq. Her brother has also served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the family has been without one or the other for the past two and a half years. Isabel received her grant to attend a surf camp for children whose parents have been deployed or lost in combat. Fortunately, her father got his leave during the camp, and they were able to surf together.
While her father and brother were gone, Isabel worked to send care packages to troops overseas with items such as dental hygiene products and phone cards to call home on Christmas. She also stepped up on the family farm, volunteered with her church, and kept good grades – all with a smile on her face. Congratulations, Isabel!
Joseph Ayers is Our Military Kid of the Month for May 2010! Joseph is 17 years old and lives in Luna Pier, Michigan. His father is currently deployed to Iraq. Joseph received his grant to attend the Michigan Youth in Government program, where he learned how bills are written, presented, revised, and approved, giving him a greater appreciation and understanding of the lawmaking process.
Joseph really stepped up to be the man of the house while his father has been deployed. In the winter months, he shoveled all of the snow and collected wood for the fireplace. He does all of the heavy lifting and he is always ready to help others. Joseph also helped out on his grandparents’ farm while his grandfather was in the hospital, tending to horses, cows, and chickens every morning before school. All the while, he remained active in swimming, cross country, yearbook, and theater while maintaining good grades. Congratulations, Joseph!