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

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

Honors also bestowed on youth volunteers in Clayton, High Point,
Bessemer City, Winston-Salem, Mount Olive and Moyock

RALEIGH, N.C.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Karigan McCurry, 18, of Gastonia and Abbigail Adler, 14, of Greenville
today were named North Carolina’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. Karigan was nominated
by Hunter Huss High School in Gastonia, and Abbigail was nominated by
Girl Scouts North Carolina Coastal Pines in Raleigh. 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 (NASSP).

Karigan, a senior at Hunter Huss High School, started volunteering for a
youth suicide prevention organization after a close friend took her own
life, and then branched out into numerous other service activities that
benefit her community. “I will never forget the night I got the call
that my best friend had committed suicide,” said Karigan. “I was in
shock and disbelief at first. I even called her phone to see if she
would answer. I was just hoping it wasn’t true.” When the shock wore
off, Karigan was left to deal with guilt. She and her friend had gone to
separate high schools and drifted apart. Maybe, Karigan thought, she
could have done something to help, if only she had known.

Turning to the internet for answers and consolation, Karigan discovered
The Jason Foundation and decided she wanted to support its mission of
educating people about youth suicide and making desperate teens
understand that suicide is not their only option. She started a small
support group at school, and then visited middle and high schools to
educate staff and students with a PowerPoint presentation and printed

Karigan also has helped raise funds for the Jason Foundation at events
such as an annual golf tournament. Her work with the foundation has
motivated Karigan to seek out other volunteer opportunities in her area.
For example, she has assisted an animal rescue agency with pet
adoptions, collected leashes for an animal spay/neuter clinic, sold
shirts to help find missing schoolgirls in Africa, and raised money for
autism awareness. “These things make my heart happy!” said Karigan.

Abbigail, an eighth-grader at The Oakwood School, launched an online
business selling jewelry and personalized items to raise money for
organizations that work to end violence in the Middle East. In school,
Abbigail learned about the Middle East and clashes between cultures and
religions in that volatile part of the world. “This violence does
nothing but kill innocent people and worsen relationships between
different cultures,” she said. “I want to do something to change that.”

As someone who loves art, Abbigail saw an opportunity to use her
artistic skills and creativity to promote peace in the Middle East. She
used her own savings and some donations to start her business, then
began creating beautiful and useful products, built a website to sell
them (,
and designed a logo and business cards. Abbigail spends at least five
hours a week making her artistic creations, filling orders and updating
and marketing her online store. At the end of each month, she donates
her profits – more than $500 so far – to organizations that, according
to her research, “come together to stop the devastation and violence on
a large scale, and promote peace in our world today.”

As State Honorees, Karigan and Abbigail 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 six other North Carolina students as
Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service
activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.

These are North Carolina’s Distinguished Finalists for 2016:

Breanna Barbosa, 18, of Clayton, N.C., a senior at Johnston
County Early College Academy, has been volunteering during the past two
summers at the Duke University Hospital in its Children’s Health Center,
where she plays games and does projects with the children, many who are
terminally ill. In 2015, Breanna was asked to serve as the center’s lead

Omar Benallal, 17, of High Point, N.C., a senior at High Point
Central High School, created a curriculum, taught science and math
classes, and provided extra help for students at the local middle school
to give them the support they need to pass their final exams. Omar, who
recently expanded to a second school and recruited four teen volunteer
tutors to help, also recently founded the “American Alliance for
Education” with plans to host a charity walk to raise funds to offer a

Allyson Costner, 17, of Bessemer City, N.C., a senior at Bessemer
City High School, began actively volunteering at a local nursing home in
2012, organizing activities and events and making and distributing
welcome kits to new residents to make them feel welcome and involved.
Allyson, who noticed on her frequent visits to her great-grandmothers
that many nursing home residents seem lonely, has also formed a group of
friends and community members who have helped raise $1,130, and also
help plan and implement events and coordinate greeting card campaigns.

Maria Ysabelle Cruzat, 17, of Winston-Salem, N.C., a senior at
Early College of Forsyth, has been volunteering since 2011 as both an
activities volunteer and most recently as a camp counselor with Camp
Hope, a Christian summer camp for children who have been abused. Maria,
who one day hopes to start an orphanage in her home country of the
Philippines, helped her church raise $3,500 to support the camp, for
which she leads the children in daily activities and small group Bible

Nolan Davis, 17, of Mount Olive, N.C., a senior at Wayne Country
Day School, has raised $22,255 and donated more than 2,200 new books to
support Reach Out and Read, a literacy campaign that provides books to
children through their well visits to their pediatricians across the
country. Nolan, motivated to act when he learned that his pediatrician
participates in the program, wrote letters encouraging local businesses
to donate funds, and hosted book drives to support the campaign.

Bethany Forehand, 15, of Moyock, N.C., a sophomore at Currituck
County High, participated with the Youth Girls on Mission by helping
with a coat and blanket drive and preparing and serving a Thanksgiving
meal for 100 residents at the Elizabeth City Women’s Shelter. Bethany,
who also helped secure $1,500 in funding from Women on Mission to cover
expenses for the meal, in turn helped that organization with many
activities, including nursing home visits, the Basket of Blessing
program and the Kit for Kids project.

“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