WASHINGTON (WKRN) – Two Tennessee students were honored Sunday night in the nation’s capital for their volunteer service.
Madison Childers, 18, and Graci Semptimphelter, 12, received $1,000 from Academy Award-winning actress Hilary Swank at the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program named Madison and Graci Tennessee’s top high school and middle level youth volunteers in February.
In addition to their cash awards, they each received an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip with a parent to Washington, D.C., for four days of recognition events.
Madison, a senior at Blackman High School, organized two golf tournaments that have raised nearly $10,000 to send veterans of World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars to Washington, D.C., to see the memorials erected in their honor.
“I was inspired by my grandfather’s service in World War II,” said Madison. “I wanted him to know how much I appreciate his service and dedication to our country. I feel that veterans do the most for our country and they receive the least amount of recognition.”
Graci, a sixth-grader at Battle Ground Academy, helped her mother initiate an activity program for individuals with special needs, and serves as a peer role model for a girl with Down syndrome.
Graci learned about working with people with special needs from her little brother, who has autism, and from her mother, who has been friends with a man with Down syndrome since she was 15.
Their nonprofit organization, 1Team1Goal, organizes football, cheer and dance teams, trains peer role models, and raises money to train educators on how best to work with kids with special needs.
“Through sports, special needs people find out new strengths and abilities, skills and success,” said Graci. “They find joy, confidence and fulfillment. I love helping them find this out about themselves and I love helping our community see how amazing these people are.”
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program was created in 1995 to identify and recognize young people for outstanding volunteer service.