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

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

Honors also bestowed on youth volunteers in Vancouver, Lynnwood,
Bellevue, Yakima, Bonney Lake and Tacoma

OLYMPIA, Wash.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Tristan Ryan, 18, of Vancouver and Emma Murphy, 13, of Enumclaw today
were named Washington’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. Tristan was nominated
by Seton Catholic College Preparatory in Vancouver, and Emma was
nominated by Enumclaw Middle School in Enumclaw. 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).

Tristan, a senior at Seton Catholic College Preparatory, worked with his
brother to raise more than $100,000 to begin a music therapy program for
premature infants at a local hospital, and to purchase equipment to
reduce noise in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The brothers,
who take on a different project every year to benefit their community,
decided on their hospital fundraiser after listening to a family friend
describe how hearing live harp music had brought her peace during the
very stressful three months that her premature twins were confined to
the NICU. “I had spent 11 days in intensive care at birth, and know how
hard that was on my parents,” said Tristan. “Their stories inspired me
to act on behalf of newborns and their families to provide the best
possible environment and care at our local hospital.”

The boys visited the hospital to find out more about the NICU and its
needs. They learned that, according to many studies, noise has a
negative effect on the growth of premature babies, but music enhances
healing and development. So they decided to raise money to bring regular
music to the unit and purchase monitors that would cut down on
extraneous noise. The brothers developed a presentation to illustrate
the need and then met with a local philanthropist, who agreed to match
up to $25,000 of whatever they raised. Over the next two months, the
brothers met with local businesses, friends and family members to ask
for financial support. They also sold poinsettias at Christmastime, held
a Super Bowl fundraiser and threw a Valentine’s Day dinner at their
house. In the end, they received 117 donations, providing $103,432 for
the hospital.

Emma, an eighth-grader at Enumclaw Middle School, raises both money and
awareness for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) to seek a
cure for Type 1 diabetes, and also volunteers at school and church in a
variety of ways. “I’m very passionate about freeing the world from
diabetes, a disease we’ve battled for thousands of years,” said Emma,
who is diabetic herself. Every year she leads a team called “Emma Jane’s
Gang” that participates in a walk-run fundraiser in Seattle called “Beat
the Bridge.” She also raises funds at school for JDRF, makes public
appearances to focus attention on diabetes, and helps her father with an
annual fundraiser they hold at their home.

In addition, Emma has helped lead recycling activities, food drives, and
other service projects at her school; worked at a local food bank;
helped with a beach cleanup; supported Special and Senior Olympics; and
entertained residents at an adult family home. “All of these activities
make an impact because they make others feel good, make the world a
better place, and start a chain reaction of kindness and support for
each other,” said Emma.

As State Honorees, Tristan and Emma 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 Washington students as
Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service
activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.

These are Washington’s Distinguished Finalists for 2016:

Tina Bao, 17, of Vancouver, Wash., a member of Southwest
Washington American Red Cross Youth Council and Mt. View Red Cross Club
and a senior at Mountain View High School, is the president of the
Southwest Washington Red Cross Youth Council, for which she has raised
$15,000, sponsored blood drives and taught CPR/first aid classes. Tina,
who joined her school’s Red Cross club as a freshman, also coordinates
campaigns that raise measles awareness and teaches disaster preparedness

Leslie Cho, 18, of Lynnwood, Wash., a junior at Lynnwood High
School, was 13 years old when she began volunteering at a summer music
camp where she provides group and private lessons, and works one-on-one
with students who need extra help. In addition, Leslie volunteers at her
church helping to feed the hungry and serving as a teacher’s assistant
in the summer school.

Kai Pacifico Eng, 16, of Bellevue, Wash., a senior at Bellevue
Big Picture School, helped raise $13,000 by making fundraising phone
calls for the Seattle Young People’s Project, a youth-run organization
that helps develop leadership skills, for which he served as a volunteer
intern. Kai also volunteers as a peer leader with The Service Board, a
mentoring, leadership and community service program.

Mariana Rentería Hernández, 17, of Yakima, Wash., a senior at
Eisenhower High School, created a mental health awareness campaign at
her school that included a 5K “Run for Hope” that raised $1,510 to
support local mental health organizations, and a month of activities to
help raise awareness about the signs and symptoms of depression and
other mental health conditions. Mariana, who herself experienced
depression, recruited a team of volunteers to assist in the coordination
of informational sessions from outside agencies, a poster campaign and

Tabitha Reynolds, 17, of Bonney Lake, Wash., a freshman at Bonney
Lake High School, raised $525 to benefit stroke research by hosting a
stroke awareness event at her school through her school’s DECA chapter,
for which Tabitha serves as president. Tabitha, inspired to educate
others after her best friend’s father had a stroke, partnered with the
Puget Sound American Stroke Association and worked with club members to
prepare carnival-style games with information booths about stroke

Jackie Yeh, 17, of Tacoma, Wash., a junior at Charles Wright
Academy, created the website “Jackie’s Volunteer Network” to identify
and promote volunteer opportunities for teens. Jackie, who created the
website in the eighth grade after being told she was too young to
volunteer for certain organizations, is also active in a number of other
organizations and service clubs and has raised $8,000 for a variety of
organizations, including the American Cancer Society, the Toy Rescue
Mission and FISH Food Banks.

“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