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

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

Honors also bestowed on youth volunteers in Oakland, Nashville, Oak
Ridge, Hixson and Hendersonville

NASHVILLE, Tenn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Madison Childers, 18, of Murfreesboro and Graci Semptimphelter, 11, of
Franklin today were named Tennessee’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. Madison was
nominated by Blackman High School in Murfreesboro, and Graci was
nominated by Battle Ground Academy in Franklin. 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).

Madison, a senior at Blackman High School, organized two golf
tournaments that have raised nearly $10,000 to send veterans of World
War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars to Washington, D.C., to see the
memorials erected in their honor. “I was inspired by my grandfather’s
service in World War II,” said Madison. “I wanted him to know how much I
appreciate his service and dedication to our country. I feel that
veterans do the most for our country and they receive the least amount
of recognition.”

Working with a group of classmates, Madison persuaded the director of a
local golf course to host the tournament, then distributed sponsor
packets to more than 100 businesses in Murfreesboro. Next, she and her
colleagues collected donations, signed up players, and recruited
volunteers to help run the event. After what she described as “200 hours
of continuous stress and emotional breakdowns,” Madison’s first
tournament raised $4,500 – enough to send 10 veterans to Washington with
an organization called the Screaming Eagle Honor Flight. A second
tournament held last October raised an additional $5,000 for veterans’

Graci, a sixth-grader at Battle Ground Academy, helped her mother
initiate an activity program for individuals with special needs, and
serves as a peer role model for a girl with Down syndrome. Graci learned
about working with people with special needs from her little brother,
who has autism, and from her mother, who has been friends with a man
with Down syndrome since she was 15. Their nonprofit organization,
1Team1Goal, organizes football, cheer and dance teams, trains peer role
models, and raises money to train educators on how best to work with
kids with special needs.

Graci helps administer the organization’s activities, sends out emails
and other communications, and makes T-shirts for the program. She also
works one-on-one with a young girl who has Down syndrome, helping her
learn to be part of a cheer team. “Through sports, special needs people
find out new strengths and abilities, skills and success,” said Graci.
“They find joy, confidence and fulfillment. I love helping them find
this out about themselves and I love helping our community see how
amazing these people are.”

As State Honorees, Madison and Graci 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 Tennessee students as
Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service
activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.

These are Tennessee’s Distinguished Finalists for 2016:

Katlyn Bryant, 18, of Oakland, Tenn., a senior at Fayette Ware
Comprehensive High School, has been serving her community since 2006 in
a variety of ways, most recently founding “Helping Hands Tennessee,” an
organization that honors a young person doing community service once
every month to encourage service in others. Over the years, Katlyn has
collected more than 2,000 pounds of food and $3,400 for the Fayette
Cares shelter program, collected and distributed 15,361 books and
hundreds of games for the Boys & Girls Club, and collected and sent more
than 1,361 flavored water packets to troops overseas.

Kathryn Capizzi, 18, of Nashville, Tenn., a senior at Harpeth
Hall School, has spent the past four years tutoring and mentoring a
total of 150 elementary children in The Afterschool Program for at-risk
children in North Nashville. Kathryn, who in this last year became the
sole organizer and mentor in the program that originally began with a
larger group of volunteers, creates lesson plans, tracks progress, and
provides support to help the children reach their grade level in math
and reading.

Thomas Colburn, 17, of Oak Ridge, Tenn., a senior at Oak Ridge
High School, was instrumental in renovating exhibits at the Children’s
Museum of Oak Ridge, including raising $1,500 to help fund the cost of
renovations. Thomas, who has volunteered at the museum for the past five
years, renovated the bird room by constructing a tree sculpture bird
feeder as a display, added QR codes so museum guests could scan and
learn more, repaired the exhibit walls and worked with local artists who
painted bark and leaf structures on the tree and in the surrounding

Joe Julian, 18, of Hixson, Tenn., a senior at Baylor School,
spent last summer renovating the library space at the Carver Youth and
Family Development Center in Chattanooga to turn the formerly dim and
messy space into a haven for the hundreds of children who attend weekly
tutoring sessions. Joe, who is a tutor at the program, gathered together
a team of volunteers, applied for and received grants and donations for
$1,000, collected 700 new books and salvaged hundreds of old books,
painted the walls, and purchased new lamps, pictures, rugs and furniture
for the new space.

Chelstin Wildun, 16, of Nashville, Tenn., a junior at Overton
High School, wrote, filmed and distributed a movie called “My Reality is
Unreal,” which dramatizes how bullying can lead to a child’s decision to
turn to suicide. Chelstin, motivated to act by the suicide of an eighth
grade classmate, worked with a Tennessee legislator to pass a bill to
create awareness of teenage suicide, and has been distributing DVDs to
high schools and organizations for use in anti-bullying and suicide
prevention programming.

Olivia Wright, 17, of Hendersonville, Tenn., a junior at Aaron
Academy, founded “Help Us Give Shoes (H.U.G.S.)” in 2008, and since then
has collected more than 90,000 pairs of shoes for people all over the
world who live in poverty or are struck by natural disasters. Olivia,
who is currently in the planning stages of building an orphanage in
India, has worked with teens throughout the world to create H.U.G.S.
chapters, and works with a dedicated team of local volunteers who help
organize shoe drives and sort and distribute the shoes.

“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