Oklahoma's Top Two Youth Volunteers Selected in 18th Annual National Awards Program

  Oklahoma's Top Two Youth Volunteers Selected in 18th Annual National Awards

 Edmond and Guthrie students earn $1,000 awards, engraved medallions and trip
                             to nation’s capital

 Honors also bestowed on youth volunteers in Grove, Stillwater, Canadian and

Business Wire

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -- February 5, 2013

Perrin Duncan, 17, of Edmond and Mason Harvey, 13, of Guthrie today were named
Oklahoma's top two youth volunteers of 2013 by The Prudential Spirit of
Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding
acts of volunteerism. Perrin was nominated by Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma
in Oklahoma City, and Mason was nominated by Guthrie Junior High School in
Guthrie. The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 18th year, is
conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association
of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).

Perrin, a senior at North High School, was a dedicated fundraiser for an
annual charity drive at her school before becoming co-chair of its 2012
campaign, which yielded more than $280,000 for the Sooner Chapter of the
Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. In 1994, students at Perrin’s high school began a
tradition of raising money for a different charity each year. Perrin had heard
about the annual campaign, called BALTO (“Bring A Light To Others”), from her
older brother and friends. They “told me what an amazing philanthropic
fundraiser it was,” she said. “I wanted to get involved as soon as I could, as
I have always had a desire to help others.”

As soon as Perrin entered high school, she volunteered to raise funds for the
campaign. She wrote letters, planned events, and participated in a variety of
other fundraising activities. That year, Perrin personally raised $3,600. The
next year, inspired by a fellow student who was battling terminal cancer,
Perrin raised $5,000 for Oklahoma’s Children’s Hospital Foundation. In
recognition of her passion and commitment, she was named co-chair of BALTO the
following year. Working with her fellow co-chair, Perrin picked the state’s
Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to be the beneficiary of the 2012 fundraising
project, decided on a theme for the campaign, selected 130 students to be
official fundraisers, and oversaw 20 special events. “Money started flowing in
October and with every event, a new record was set,” she said. The final
tally, $282,145, exceeded the year’s goal by more than 40 percent. “It was one
of the most rewarding and stressful years of my life,” said Perrin, “but I
wouldn’t change my experience for anything.”

Mason, an eighth-grader at Guthrie Junior High School, has become a crusader
against childhood obesity after shedding 85 pounds in the seventh grade. “Once
upon a time, I was very unhealthy, overweight, and picked on by bullies,” said
Mason. “In the sixth grade, at my heaviest, 206 pounds, I told my parents I
was sick and tired of being sick and tired.” He started exercising and making
smarter food choices, and by the beginning of the next school year, he had
dropped an astonishing 85 pounds “and felt awesome!” he said.

Recognizing that childhood obesity is a big problem nationally, Mason figured
he could use his example to persuade other overweight kids that they, too, can
slim down. Since he regarded 85 as his “magic number,” he resolved to meet 85
important or famous people who could help him tell his story, and host or
attend 85 events to raise awareness of childhood obesity. So he spends much of
his free time reaching out to people and planning or appearing at special
events. His celebrity encounters have included First Lady Michelle Obama and
the mayor of Oklahoma City, who invited him to the State of the City address.
He has organized several fitness events and participated in many others, and
works hard to promote each one. In addition, Mason speaks in front of school
assemblies and other groups, accompanied by a slide show. “I am the boy that
could barely finish exercise during football and now I run 5Ks,” he said.
“Don’t let people tell you it can’t be done. Believe with all of your heart
and do it.”

As State Honorees, Perrin and Mason each will receive $1,000, an engraved
silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip in early May to Washington,
D.C., where they will join the top two honorees from each of the other states
and the District of Columbia for four days of national recognition events.
During the trip, 10 students will be named America’s top youth volunteers of

                           Distinguished Finalists

The program judges also recognized four other Oklahoma students as
Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service activities.
Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.

These are Oklahoma's Distinguished Finalists for 2013:

Ellise Crawford, 18, of Grove, Okla., a senior at Grove High School, has
raised $50,000 through a series of fundraisers over the past two years to
build “Emmanuel’s House,” a home in Ghana, West Africa that will shelter 25
children who have been rescued from slavery. Ellise, who first became aware of
the tragedy of child slavery when her family adopted a young African boy who
was rescued from it, has organized the fundraising projects and increased
awareness of the need for the home, which will be completed this winter.

Garrett Dollins, 17, of Stillwater, Okla., a member of the Payne County 4-H
and a senior at Perkins-Tryon High School, has raised $1,400 to purchase new
first aid supplies for his school through his program, “Scrap 4 Helping
Schools.” Garrett, who was injured playing basketball and realized first aid
supplies were insufficient, raised the funds by recruiting a team of
volunteers to help him collect and sell scrap and unused metal.

Elisabeth Willis, 17, of Canadian, Okla., a member of the Pittsburg County 4-H
and a junior at Canadian High School, has been an active volunteer with the
Therapeutic Equestrian Association of McAlester for seven years and, in the
past two years, has raised $10,000 to support the organization. Elisabeth, who
raised the funds by coordinating two music festivals, has donated the money to
help build new riding facilities for the organization, which supports children
with special needs.

Kaylee Young, 16, of Norman, Okla., a member of the Cleveland County 4-H and a
sophomore at Young Creations, has collected nearly $11,000 and 60,000 items
for care packages she has sent to the military through The Hugs Project.
Kaylee, who has volunteered with this organization since 2010, took on a
larger role when she began organizing care drives and fundraising events and
spreading the word through the local media.

“Prudential is proud to honor these students for making meaningful
contributions to their communities,” said Prudential Chairman and CEO John
Strangfeld. “We hope that shining a spotlight on their initiative, creativity
and compassion inspires others to consider how they, too, can make a

“Through their volunteer service, each of these young people has made his or
her mark on at least one person, school or community,” said JoAnn Bartoletti,
executive director of NASSP. “When you consider the collective impact of each
of these individual acts, it’s clear that young people can be a major force
for good.”

               About The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards represents the United States’
largest youth recognition program based solely on volunteer service. All
public and private middle level and high schools in the country, as well as
all Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross
chapters, YMCAs and HandsOn Network affiliates, were eligible to select a
student or member for a local Prudential Spirit of Community Award. Nearly
5,000 Local Honorees were then reviewed by an independent judging panel, which
selected State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists based on criteria
including personal initiative, effort, impact and personal growth.

While in Washington, D.C., the 102 State Honorees – one middle level and one
high school student from each state and the District of Columbia – will tour
the capital’s landmarks, meet top youth volunteers from other parts of the
world, attend a gala awards ceremony at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of
Natural History, and visit their congressional representatives on Capitol
Hill. On May 6, 10 of the State Honorees – five middle level and five high
school students – will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2013. These
National Honorees will receive additional $5,000 awards, gold medallions,
crystal trophies and $5,000 grants from The Prudential Foundation for
nonprofit charitable organizations of their choice.

Since the program began in 1995, more than 100,000 young volunteers have been
honored at the local, state and national level. The program also is conducted
by Prudential subsidiaries in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Ireland and India.
In addition to granting its own awards, The Prudential Spirit of Community
Awards program also distributes President’s Volunteer Service Awards to
qualifying Local Honorees on behalf of President Barack Obama.

For information on all of this year’s Prudential Spirit of Community State
Honorees and Distinguished Finalists, visit http://spirit.prudential.com or

                                 About NASSP

NASSP (National Association of Secondary School Principals) is the leading
organization of and national voice for middle level and high school
principals, assistant principals, and all school leaders from across the
United States and more than 36 countries around the world. The association
provides research-based professional development and resources, networking,
and advocacy to build the capacity of middle level and high school leaders to
continually improve student performance. Reflecting its longstanding
commitment to student leadership development as well, NASSP administers the
National Honor Society™, National Junior Honor Society®, National Elementary
Honor Society®, and National Association of Student Councils®. For more
information about NASSP, located in Reston, VA, visit www.nassp.org.

                          About Prudential Financial

Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU), a financial services leader, has
operations in the United States, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Prudential’s
diverse and talented employees are committed to helping individual and
institutional customers grow and protect their wealth through a variety of
products and services, including life insurance, annuities, retirement-related
services, mutual funds and investment management. In the U.S., Prudential’s
iconic Rock symbol has stood for strength, stability, expertise and innovation
for more than a century. For more information, please visit

Editors: For full-color pictures of the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards
program logo and medallions, click here: http://bit.ly/Xi4oFW


Prudential Financial
Harold Banks, 973-802-8974 or 973-216-4833
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