Colorado’s Top Two Youth Volunteers Selected in 21st Annual National Awards Program

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

Honors also bestowed on youth volunteers in Golden, Englewood,
Longmont and Niwot

DENVER–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Nicole Steiner, 17, of Parker and Madelene Kleinhans, 13, of Broomfield
today were named Colorado’s top two youth volunteers of 2016 by The
Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring
young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism. Nicole was nominated
by Legend High School in Parker, and Madelene was nominated by Colorado
Digital Academy in Lakewood. The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards,
now in its 21st year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in
partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals

Nicole, a senior at Legend High School, has collected more than $40,000
worth of games, puzzles and books for organizations and individuals in
15 Colorado cities to make life a little brighter for hospitalized
children, veterans, kids with special needs, cancer patients, the
elderly, homeless people and students from low-income families. When
Nicole was a young child, her mother took a “horrific” fall down some
stairs at home and became disabled for a number of years. “Many people
helped my family with meals, shopping and childcare,” recalled Nicole.
“I am inspired by those who served us.” As a result, she decided to give
back by doing something for others who are experiencing difficult times
in their lives.

Since board games had been a beneficial distraction and social outlet
for her mother during her convalescence, Nicole founded “A Game for You”
in 2014. She began organizing large school and community donation drives
to collect new and gently used board games, puzzles and books. Then,
with the help of classmates and other volunteers, she delivered these
items twice a year to hospitals, veterans organizations, special-needs
classrooms, cancer centers, assisted-living facilities, homeless
shelters, and school libraries. “Games, books and puzzles help stimulate
mental and social interaction,” said Nicole, “which can lead to mental,
emotional and physical healing.” So far, more than 5,500 people have
received items from Nicole’s collection efforts. Nicole also recently
launched a second project to provide a journal to every high school
student in her school district.

Madelene, an eighth-grader at Colorado Digital Academy, organizes free
bimonthly outings for kids who have critically ill siblings, to provide
them with emotional support and show them that they are not alone. When
she was 7, Madelene’s younger brother was diagnosed with leukemia and
had to endure 38 consecutive months of chemotherapy. “I felt so left out
and angry about my brother’s cancer,” said Madelene, “but after
attending a camp for siblings of kids with cancer, I realized I wasn’t
alone.” She also realized that she could do something to help other
children in her situation.

Madelene approached There With Care, a nonprofit serving families in
medical crises, to partner with her in developing a program she calls
“Heartfelt Hugs.” The program offers free events every other month to
young people ages 8-16 who have brothers or sisters with
life-threatening illnesses, events such as a skate party with
horse-drawn carriage rides, a visit to a pumpkin patch, a pool party and
a huge birthday party. Madelene recruits participants by speaking at
cancer camps, hosting booths at cancer events, and working through
children’s hospitals. Then, with help from family members and friends,
she plans all of the events, solicits donations and sponsorships,
recruits volunteers, and secures facilities. Participation has grown
from just two kids at the beginning, to nearly 50 at a recent event. “In
the end, we find that we are all dealing with the same emotions and
fears,” said Madelene.

As State Honorees, Nicole and Madelene 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 2016.

Distinguished Finalists

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

These are Colorado’s Distinguished Finalists for 2016:

Christina Bear, 17, of Golden, Colo., a member of the Girl Scouts
of Colorado and senior at Colorado Academy, founded “Project STEM
Student Mentors” in 2014 to teach and inspire young Hispanic students in
technology and programming, after learning Hispanics are
underrepresented in STEM fields. Christina prepared manuals and
activities, recruited assistant teachers and taught third graders
Scratch programming, Lego Robot construction and mini-science
experiments in her program, which now provides for more than 140
students locally and is shared nationally across the Horizons network, a
national nonprofit that provides enrichment learning for minorities.

Edwin Bodoni, 15, of Englewood, Colo., a freshman at Cherry Creek
High School, founded the nonprofit “Colorado Wheelchair Fencing
Foundation” to provide a wheelchair fencing program for children with
disabilities, offering them a fun and healthy activity that promotes
creativity, focus and decision-making abilities. Edwin, who raised
$5,000 to support the program by hosting fencing tournaments, created a
website, secured a venue, recruited volunteers, and hired a nurse to be
present for the more than 80 children who have participated in the
program so far.

Riley Holcomb, 12, of Longmont, Colo., a seventh-grader at Altona
Middle School, has raised more than $18,000 to support the American
Cancer Society by recruiting and leading a Relay for Life team for the
past four years. Riley, who began her relationship with the American
Cancer Society after her aunt died from kidney cancer, created the team
“Riley’s Rebels” to help fund a cure for cancer.

Zachary Olkin, 15, of Niwot, Colo., a sophomore at Niwot High
School, founded a “VEX IQ” robotics team at a local Spanish-speaking
community for agricultural workers, while also working with his school’s
Innovation Center to promote STEM throughout the elementary and middle
schools in the district. Zachary, who discovered that the district’s
teachers were unsure how to implement their school’s robotics clubs,
also wrote a teachers’ guide and a formal robotics curriculum that is
currently being used in four of the district’s schools.

“Prudential commends each of these young volunteers for using their
creativity and compassion to bring positive change to their
communities,” said Prudential Chairman and CEO John Strangfeld. “We hope
their stories inspire others to consider how they can make a difference,

“We are pleased to honor these students not only for their exemplary
acts of service, but for the powerful example they’ve set for their
peers,” said JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of NASSP.
“Congratulations to each of the 2016 honorees.”

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.
These 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

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 2, 10 of the State Honorees –
five middle level and five high school students – will be named
America’s top youth volunteers of 2016. 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 115,000 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, India, China and Brazil. 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


The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) is the
leading organization of and voice for middle level and high school
principals, assistant principals, and school leaders from across the
United States and 35 countries around the world. The association
connects and engages school leaders through advocacy, research,
education, and student programs. NASSP advocates on behalf of all school
leaders to ensure the success of each student and strengthens school
leadership practices through the design and delivery of high quality
professional learning experiences. Reflecting its long-standing
commitment to student leadership development, 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

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 Spirit of Community Awards
program logo and medallions, click here:


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