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Rising Star Award

This award will recognize an individual, under the age of 21, who has distinguished himself or herself in the community directly accredited to their inspiration, dedication, motivation, or acts of kindness. Nominees represent up-and-comers whose accomplishments in, and contributions to, our community make them stand out among their peers and position them as future leaders. A short essay on the nominee’s impact is necessary at time of nomination. Candidates may nominate themselves or be nominated by others. The top candidates that have achieved the most votes via an online poll will be further researched by an impartial judging panel to decide the ultimate winner.

Read the essays for each nominee.

NOTE: The essays below have not been edited and are presented as originally shared by the author. They may contain grammatical or spelling errors.


FOOT Foundation

Giovanni Scanio, a mere 13-year-old boy from Tampa Florida has restored my belief that humanity and humility still exists in our youth. And for this very reason, has been nominated for the Rising Star Award. He is heavily involved in his parents’ charity foundation, The FOOT Foundation—a foundation that is committed to providing orthotic and prosthetic services to those in third-world countries and giving back to the Tampa Bay community. He requested that his 13th birthday party be a fundraiser gala so together, his family foundation, more people can receive help. Giovanni has orchestrated multiple sock drives collecting brand new socks for the children of Guatemala so that they are able to utilize their orthotics properly. He single-handedly tackles fundraisers for charity projects in Tampa. Giovanni volunteers his time at camps for special needs children. He is a beacon of inspiration to others. He has spent his last two summers volunteering his time in Guatemala at the FOOT Foundations humanitarian clinics. Visit http://footfoundation2007.wixsite.com/footfoundation for more details. What makes Giovanni even more remarkable is the amazing big Brother he is, to his brother who suffers from Mitochondrial Disease—a life-threatening disease. Giovanni has coordinated multiple mitochondrial disease awareness events to educate others. He has been before legislators in Washington at his father’s side. He is active on the John’s Hopkins All Children Teen Advisory Council, and he represents siblings of those with disabilities/illnesses. During the time in our society when we should focus on those who are breaking down walls and not building them. This young man has not only climbed over walls but has also broken them down so as to improve the lives of others, one person at a time, no matter the location they live in and for all these reasons he truly is a Rising Star!

Best Buddies International

It is with great pleasure that I nominate Grace Hirshfeld for the 2020 Be More Inspiring Rising Star Award. Grace demonstrates an extraordinary commitment to her Best Buddies community through leadership and responsibility. I work in the Best Buddies Tampa office as a Program Manager and I manage the communication between all of our school friendship chapters. In the past year and a half that I’ve known Grace, I’ve gotten to work with her closely and see how she is carrying the mission of Best Buddies throughout her school and community. Not only did Grace start the Best Buddies chapter at her middle school, she has also gone on to be the president of her high school chapter for the past two years, going on three. She has taken what she has learned and constantly develops her leadership skills. In the last year alone she has attended Tallahassee with the Best Buddies staff and her buddy, Regan, to thank legislators for the funding they provide to our programs; hosted countless activities and events for the students in her chapter; attended the Best Buddies Leadership Conference for the third time and was chosen to teach a portion of the trainings to her peers; and she has been a speech coach at some of the local Tampa ambassador traingings. I can always count on Grace to have deadlines submitted on time with plenty of attention to detail and move the mission of Best Buddies throughout Tampa. She is truly the definition of a Rising Star and inspires me every day to continue doing what I am doing.

Operation Military Matters

Operation: Military Matters was started in November 2015, as part of a project for a gifted class by 9-year-old and fourth grader Graci Tubbs (now 13 and in 8th grade). After hearing and seeing veterans speak at a school Veterans Day assembly, Graci felt the need to support our military and let the men and women sacrificing their lives for us, know people back home cared about them. What started out as a school project collecting supplies from the community and sending care packages from home to the military overseas grew into a nonprofit. In December 2016, Operation: Military Matters became a corporation and on March 16, 2016 became a 501 (c) (3). Today, Graci speaks to civic organizations and the military to let them know about OMM. Her efforts help raise support and donations to continue sending care packages overseas to our military. So far they have sent more than 2,500 care packages to our military all around the world and Graci has raised more than $77,000. You can follow her daily on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/operationmilitarymatters

Wheelchairs 4 Kids

Wheelchairs 4 Kids, has successfully provided Wheelchairs and other assistive equipment to over 500 disabled children. The mission is to get the kids mobile and out into their communities to socialize with others. Madeline has created a wonderful organization and support system to do that.

Sallybrating With A Cause

At 12 yrs old, Sally Campbell began volunteering and serving cancer patients at the Hope Lodge in Tampa. She would gather several of her friends and they would take a dinner to the patients who reside there while undergoing their treatment. Sally has also volunteered at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital’s Christmas In July event for the last three years. She has also served as a team captain for her own Relay for Life team. She has volunteered for events hosted by the Children’s Cancer Society including the Lemon-aide Project and the Gelatin Plunge. Sally has served the homeless with the Love One Another Ministry in Dade City. Sally has participated in many cancer awareness events including a Cure Search Walk and Miles for Moffitt. Sally has reached out to her family, friends, school and community for support in all of her fundraising and awareness efforts. Sally is now 17 yrs old and she has been able to raise over $40,000 in monetary and other donation types for many causes within her community. Sally has been responsible for hosting her own fundraisers including a bake sale/lemonade stand once a month, an annual golf tournament, bowl-a-thons and a motorcycle poker run with the local Eagle Riders. All of the proceeds from these events have proceeded the many charities and causes which Sally has love to support. In the summer of 2016, Sally was given a chance to form her own non-profit 501-c3 called Sallybrating With A Cause where she currently sits as the president on her junior board. She has led many of her friends (other youth) to join her efforts. Sally serves as a mentor at teen camps and girl power events. She has demonstrated to other young people that they can do amazing things and make positive changes as well.

Silly Sock Saturdays Corporation

I am nominating Zachary because he has a compassionate heart and is always taking the extra step to make a positive impact in everything he does. Three years ago he was presented with an assignment to come up with an idea that would make a difference in the community, he took his idea and actually turned it into a nonprofit 501c3 Corporation. He formed Silly Sock Saturdays and for over two years now he makes deliveries every month to children in local hospitals to help get them through a scary time in their lives. He delivers silly designed socks along with coloring books, toys and other comfort items in hopes that it gives the children a reason to smile and a distraction from what is going on in the hospital. He has also been invited to speak to other youth about how they can make a positive impact in their community no matter how big or small or how old they are. He has been active in Boy Scouts for over 10 years and will be starting his Eagle Project soon. He also volunteers at his church and is involved with church camp. He is currently enrolled in the IB program at Lake Wales High where he is also a member of the bowling team, Cyber Patriot Club, Model UN, serves as treasurer of the executive board and volunteers for the tech department. He truly is an inspiration in many ways and I am sure will continue to inspire others with his heart of servitude.

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