Ohio’s Top Two Youth Volunteers Selected in 21St Annual National Awards Program

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

Honors also bestowed on youth volunteers in Sagamore Hills, Powell,
Dover, Dublin, Canton, Mentor, Hubbard and Montpelier

COLUMBUS, Ohio–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Parker Inks, 17, of Fremont and Meagan Warren, 12, of Bexley today were
named Ohio’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. Parker was nominated by St. Joseph
Central Catholic High School in Fremont, and Meagan was nominated by
Bexley Middle School in Bexley. 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

Parker, a junior at St. Joseph Central Catholic High School, helped
start a foundation eight years ago that has raised $150,000 through an
annual dinner and auction to help families burdened by the high cost of
caring for children with disabilities. Parker, who was diagnosed with
muscular dystrophy when he was a baby and uses a power wheelchair to get
around, was hospitalized in 2008 with severe pneumonia. It was a
terrible time for his family – not only was Parker sick, but his mother
was undergoing chemotherapy and his father was not working. One day,
Parker had a visit from his school’s football coach. “He and my dad told
me that I have a purpose,” said Parker. “I thought these were just words
of encouragement but the older I get the more I understand that I truly
do have a purpose.” After that visit, the coach organized several
fundraisers to ease the family’s financial situation. Overwhelmed by the
community’s generosity, Parker and his family wanted to “pay it forward”
and founded a nonprofit organization, “Parker’s Purpose,” to help pay
bills and purchase medical equipment for families of children with
disabilities. – more

As one of five members of the foundation’s executive committee, Parker
attends monthly meetings to review grant requests. To raise money,
Parker came up with the idea of having an annual dinner and auction.
Every year, Parker helps spread the word and is the spokesperson for the
event. He weighs in on the choice of venue, the entertainment, and which
celebrities will be asked to attend. The money the event has raised has
helped more than 200 families over the years, Parker said, and he plans
to keep going. “One day, I hope I can look in the mirror and say that I
have made an impact on others’ lives!”

Meagan, a seventh-grader at Bexley Middle School, brings the magic of
books to low-income children in the Columbus area through “Books for
Bedtime,” a nonprofit organization that has collected more than 14,000
children’s books since late 2014. For Meagan, who started reading when
she was only 2 years old, it is hard to imagine not having a book to
read, especially at bedtime. But she knows that not every child’s
parents can afford to buy books. “Because my mom has always worked at
disadvantaged schools, I have seen the effects of poverty, and
understand that books are often low on the families’ list of
necessities,” Meagan said. One night, while reading in bed, she was
thinking how sad it was that there were kids who didn’t get to read
before falling asleep. It dawned on her that she could help change that.

With the help of her family, Meagan filed the paperwork to start her
nonprofit, and created a logo, business cards, a website and social
media accounts. Then she built a large collection box to place at her
school and at various businesses in her community. Soon, donations of
books started coming in. Once she gets the books, she stamps them with
her logo, organizes them by grade level and stacks them in her basement
to await their new home. The biggest hurdle initially, she said, was
finding organizations that wanted her books. But after a local newspaper
printed a story on her project, she started getting calls from schools,
homeless shelters, immigrant organizations and other groups. When she
delivers books, she often gives a short motivational speech about the
wonders of reading. “Almost every time I donate I have at least one
child approach me and ask, ‘How much does this book cost?’ It brings me
such joy to be able to say it’s free,” said Meagan.

As State Honorees, Parker and Meagan 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 eight other Ohio students as
Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service
activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.

These are Ohio’s Distinguished Finalists for 2016:

Michaela Bruno, 18, of Sagamore Hills, Ohio, a senior at Nordonia
High School, helped raise $10,000 for “Knights Caring for Knights,” a
weekend food assistance program she founded with her mother and sister
in 2011 for which they prepared weekend food packages out of their
basement. Michaela, who has taken the lead on the program and moved it
to the high school, has a crew of volunteers who help collect the food
and prepare the packages for 25 students weekly who are identified by
counselors as being food insecure.

Ryan Dozer, 17, of Powell, Ohio, a junior at Olentangy Liberty
High School, helped raise $50,000 to provide meals for pediatric
chemotherapy patients and their families, and to help them make their
mortgage payments during treatment, through the organization he and his
family founded called “Fight Like a Dozer.” Ryan, who overcame cancer
after a diagnosis in 2012, helped his family create the organization as
a way to give back to those who supported him after his diagnosis, and
today he helps organize student volunteers, develop fundraising ideas,
and help with sponsorship and promotion.

Phillip Fischio, 18, of Dover, Ohio, a senior at Dover High
School, has raised $15,568 to support The Rainbow Connection, a
nonprofit organization that supports the healthcare of people in need in
Tuscarawas County. Phillip, who has been volunteering for the
organization since he was 9 years old, raised the funds by raking
leaves, collecting recyclables, and hosting bake sales and raffles.

Rohith Koneru, 17, of Dublin, Ohio, a senior at Dublin Scioto
High School, has raised $4,000 to support the Nationwide Children’s
Hospital and Research Foundation in Columbus by accepting donations from
people he’s helped uncover unclaimed government funds. Rohith, who
created “Digging for Dollars” after reading an article about how the
government is holding billions in unclaimed funds, reaches out to people
to offer his help uncovering the funds and then asks for a donation in
return for his help.

Anthony Massa, 18, of Canton, Ohio, a senior at Hoover High
School, raised $2,000 by organizing a Christmas charity variety show,
“Season of the Heart,” to support two local charities: Hammer and Nails
and the Stark County Hunger Task Force. Anthony, who spent six months
securing sponsors and musical acts, writing comedy material and
promoting the event, hopes to make it an annual affair.

Vishnu Nistala, 16, of Mentor, Ohio, a senior at Mentor High
School, began volunteering in the summer of 2012 at the Fairport Senior
Center, offering weekly technology classes to help seniors keep up with
the latest advances in cell phone and computer technology. Vishnu, who
began volunteering as a tribute to his late grandmother , helps the
seniors order prescription refills and pay bills online, while also
teaching them how to manage email, protect their personal information
and connect with family and friends through social media.

Richard Pasco, 18, of Hubbard, Ohio, a senior at Hubbard High
School, co-founded the “Ricky Mack Giving Back Make-A-Wish Fundraiser”
in 2009 and has since raised $47,000 to sponsor five wishes for
terminally ill children. Richard and his sister, who both have an immune
disorder called common variable immune deficiency that requires them to
get monthly plasma infusions, both received wishes, and created the
fundraiser to give back.

Jade Scott, 11, of Montpelier, Ohio, a fifth-grader at Montpelier
Middle School, founded her school’s chapter of Help Us Give Shoes (HUGS)
in 2014, and has collected more than 3,000 pairs of shoes and $1,240
through shoe drives and sponsorships. Jade, who continues to collect and
donate shoes to those in need, has also begun collecting snow boots so
children can be protected during the cold and wet winters.

“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 http://spirit.prudential.com
or www.nassp.org/spirit.


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 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 www.news.prudential.com.

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