Plano West Student Among Top 10 National Prudential Spirit of Community Award Winners
May 21, 2010
Benjamin Sater, Plano West Senior High School student, was named one of America's top ten youth volunteers for 2010 in a ceremony held recently at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, winning a national Prudential Spirit of Community Award for his outstanding volunteer service. Selected from a field of more than 21,000 applicants across the country, he received a personal award of $5,000, an engraved gold medallion, a crystal trophy for his school, and a $5,000 grant from The Prudential Foundation for the nonprofit charitable organization of his choice.
Ben is pictured with awards presenter Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. Secretary of State, and fellow awardee Emily Lites from Roanoke.
Also honored in Washington was Emily Lites of Roanoke. She and Benjamin were named Texas' top youth volunteers in February, and were officially recognized recently at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, along with the top two youth volunteers of every other state and the District of Columbia.
At that event, all of the Prudential Spirit of Community State Honorees for 2010 were presented with $1,000 awards, and congratulated by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Olympic snowboarding champion Seth Wescott. The honorees also received engraved silver medallions and an all-expense-paid trip with their parents to Washington, D.C., for a week of recognition events.
"The Prudential Spirit of Community honorees give us great hope for the future," said Dr. Rice. "Their compassion and commitment are already making a real difference in so many lives, and I have no doubt that their leadership will continue to positively impact the world for many years to come."
Benjamin, a senior at Plano West Senior High School, has raised more than $800,000 for Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children over the past seven years by hosting an annual children's golf tournament called "KidSwing." Benjamin visited the hospital frequently as a child for free treatment of a condition affecting the tendons in his fingers.
"Scottish Rite became a very special place to me," he said. When he discovered that the hospital exists solely on donations, "I knew right away that I wanted to give back to them since they had done so much for me."
So Benjamin, only 11 at the time, created "KidSwing." He worked with a local golf pro to set up the course, recruited kids from his school and neighborhood to play in the tournament, and sent letters seeking corporate sponsors. There are no entry fees, but players are encouraged to raise at least $100 each for the hospital by asking friends and family members to sponsor them. Participation has grown every year, and today, it is one of Scottish Rite's biggest fund-raising events, benefiting a different hospital program each year. One year it funded a learn-to-golf program for children with physical disabilities, many of whom actually participate in the charity event thanks to special prostheses the hospital created for them. "I am extremely proud of what the event has become," said Benjamin. "There is no better feeling than giving back and making a difference."
About the Awards
More than 21,000 young people submitted applications for the 2010 awards program last fall through schools, Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and affiliates of the Points of Light Institute's HandsOn Network. The top middle level and high school applicants in each state were selected in February and flown to Washington this week with their parents for four days of special recognition events.
The national selection committee that chose the ten National Honorees was chaired by Strangfeld of Prudential. Also serving on the committee were Steven Pophal, president of the National Association of Secondary School Principals; Michelle Nunn, president and CEO of the Points of Light & HandsOn Network; Marguerite Kondracke, president and CEO of the America's Promise Alliance; Donald T. Floyd Jr., president and CEO of National 4-H Council; Pamela Farr, the American Red Cross' national chair of volunteers; Elson Nash, associate director for project management at the Corporation for National and Community Service; Michael Cohen, president and CEO of Achieve, Inc.; Dr. Randal Pinkett, chairman and CEO of BCT Partners; and two 2009 Prudential Spirit of Community National Honorees: Shardy Camargo of Orlando, Fla., and Colin Leslie of Rye, N.Y.
Conducted in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards were created 15 years ago by Prudential Financial to encourage youth volunteerism and to identify and reward young role models. Since then, the program has honored nearly 100,000 young volunteers at the local, state and national level.
"The young women and men in America's schools are nothing short of amazing, and nowhere is this more evident than amongst this year's award recipients," said NASSP President Steven Pophal. "They possess a keen intellect, servant hearts, capable leadership skills, and are filled with energy and ambition. NASSP and Prudential are honored to recognize them."
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards are supported by the American Association of School Administrators, the National Middle School Association, the National School Boards Association, the Council of the Great City Schools, Girl Scouts of the USA, National 4-H Council, the American Red Cross, YMCA of the USA, the Points of Light Institute, and other national education and service organizations.
More information about The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards and this year's honorees can be found at http://spirit.prudential.com or www.principals.org/spirit.
In existence since 1916, the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) is the preeminent organization of and national voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and aspiring school leaders from across the United States and more than 45 countries around the world. NASSP's mission is to promote excellence in school leadership. The National Honor Society(R), National Junior Honor Society(R), National Elementary Honor Society(TM), and National Association of Student Councils(R) are all NASSP programs. For more information about NASSP, located in Reston, Va., visit www.principals.org or call 703-860-0200.
Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU) is a financial services leader with operations in the United States, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Leveraging its heritage of life insurance and asset management expertise, Prudential is focused on helping approximately 50 million individual and institutional customers grow and protect their wealth. In the United States, the company's Rock symbol is an icon of strength, stability, expertise and innovation that has stood the test of time. Prudential's businesses offer a variety of products and services, including life insurance, annuities, retirement-related services, mutual funds, investment management, and real estate services. For more information, visit www.news.prudential.com.