ST. LOUIS (May 4, 2011) – Twenty-five youths from the United States and Canada who demonstrate kindness, compassion and leadership have advanced to the finalist round of the 2011 search for Huggable Heroes® sponsored by Build-A-Bear Workshop®. This outstanding group of young people, ranging in age from 10 to 18, are honored and celebrated by
Build-A-Bear Workshop for their dedication in making their communities and the world a better place and are now in the final running to be selected as the 2011 Huggable Heroes.
Ultimately, 10 Huggable Heroes from this group of 25 will be named this summer. Each will receive $10,000 (a $7,500 educational scholarship and $2,500 from the Build-A-Bear Workshop Foundation to be donated to the 501(c)(3) charity or Canadian cause of the Huggable Hero’s choice). In addition, the Huggable Heroes will win a trip for themselves and a parent or guardian to St. Louis, home of the Build-A-Bear Workshop World Bearquarters. During their visit, they will have the opportunity to meet each other, participate in leadership opportunities and be honored for their good deeds. They also will be featured in the 2012 Build-A-Bear Workshop Huggable Heroes calendar.
The finalists are involved in a variety of charitable causes that are making a difference in their communities and beyond. Examples include: spearheading environmental programs, raising funds to help eradicate diseases, building homes for the homeless, helping underprivileged children in the United States and abroad by donating books and school supplies, building soccer fields, providing fresh produce to local food shelters and helping homeless animals.
Build-A-Bear Workshop received nearly 1,200 entries for its eighth annual search rewarding youth for their outstanding acts of generosity, volunteerism and leadership. Nominations were accepted from January 14 through February 28. Entries were narrowed down to a field of 75 semifinalists in April and now 25 finalists have been announced.
Following are the 2011 Huggable Heroes finalists and their stories. Information also is available online at http://heroes.lovehugssmiles.com/. All the finalists are available for interviews to share their inspiring stories and encourage other kids to get involved in their communities. Build-A-Bear Workshop representatives are also available to discuss the Huggable Heroes program.
Abigail Talg, 10, Wausau, WI
Abigail volunteers at the local Humane Society, where she assists at events, raises funds and works with the animals. She started a program called Cookie Cutters for a Cause which has raised more than $500 for the Humane Society. She also has raised an additional $1,500 during pledge walks she participates in with her dog.
Armin Mohammadi, 17, Richmond Hill, ON
After traveling to Honduras to help build an extension on a hospital, Armin created A Pencil for a Student, A Future for a Nation, a nonprofit organization that works to improve the quality of education in developing nations. Armin has also volunteered over 1500 hours at the Sunnybrook Hospital, York Central Hospital and Mariann Elderly Home.
Carrie Ingerman, 16, Baton Rouge, LA
Carrie founded Cliks4Kidz to donate laptops to help children undergoing cancer treatment maintain their social networks. To date, she has raised more than $10,000 and donated 17 laptops to oncology units at Children’s Hospital of New Orleans and Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital.
Cassandra Lin, 12, Westerly, RI
Cassandra created T.G.I.F (Turn Grease Into Fuel) which collects cooking grease from residents and restaurants, refines it into biodiesel, and then distributes it to families in need. She has led her team to encourage community action and to date, has raised more than $50,000 and provided biofuel to 92 families in need.
Cassidy Megan McCarthy, 12, Halifax, NS
Four years ago, Cassidy Megan founded Purple Day for Epilepsy to promote epilepsy awareness. Purple Day has partnered with the Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia and the Anita Kaufmann Foundation in the USA. Purple Day is now recognized internationally with supporters in Spain, Iran, Australia, Madrid, England, Africa, Cyprus and other countries worldwide.
Ceilidh Millar, 17 New Westminster, BC
Ceilidh serves as a voice for youth while encouraging other young people to become active and involved citizens within the community. Ceilidh created Teen Scene, which is now a regular established monthly televised feature at city council meetings. Teen Scene has encouraged other young people to become involved with organizations such as Free the Children and the Rotary Club.
Deventae Mooney, 15, Coeburn, VA
Deventae volunteers as coach and referee for youth sports, tutors summer school students, raises money for cancer patients and delivers lunches (24,000 to date) to children in need during the summer. He has raised $21,000 to benefit youth sports and more than $20,000 for Relay for Life and other organizations that benefit cancer patients.
Emily Lites, 12, Roanoke, TX
Emily created Emily's Smile Boxes to provide goodie boxes to children in hospitals. She has raised $24,000 and filled 2,400 boxes to date with crayons, coloring books, toys and more for patients and their siblings to make hospital stays easier. She holds fundraisers and box-assembling parties to get others involved.
Jasmine Brown, 18, Chesapeake, VA
Jasmine started a program called Today’s Readers, Future Leaders to collect books and school supplies for children in need. She devotes approximately 60 hours per month to gathering, cleaning, sorting and delivering books and supplies where needed. So far, Jasmine has collected more than 6,000 items for her program.
Justin Churchman, 18, El Paso, TX
Justin helps build houses for the homeless in Juarez, Mexico. His efforts include raising $48,000 for building materials by making presentations to organizations and contacting business owners. He also has recruited 75 volunteers to assist. To date, his efforts have helped build 18 homes.
Katherine Stone, 17, Fort Walton Beach, FL
Katherine volunteers with SOCKS, a no-kill cat shelter. She works in the shelter, organizes fundraisers, leads community outreach, fosters kittens and organizes volunteers. Katherine and her volunteers have helped remodel and renovate areas of the shelter. She also has raised more than $88,000 for SOCKS.
Kendall Ohrwashel, 17, Nazareth, PA
Kendall started the Summer Book Sale to raise money for children with challenging health issues. Her book sales have raised more than $18,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation to grant four wishes. She also has donated more than 20,000 books to organizations like KidsPeace, Cops 'n Kids and the MORA Organization.
Kristen Caraker, 17, Wenonah, NJ
Kristen volunteers with Bradley’s Buddies, a nonprofit organization established in loving memory of her brother, Bradley, to raise funds for leukemia research and help families dealing with childhood cancer. Bradley’s Buddies’ biggest fundraising event each year is a 5K run benefitting Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, which Kristen coordinates.
Kylie Kuhns, 14, Mifflinburg, PA
Kylie created Kelsey’s Dream to bring smiles to the faces of children with cancer. She has raised money and collected items valued at more than $130,000 to fund the programs she created to help kids with cancer who are undergoing chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants.
Kyle Weiss, 18, Danville, CA
Kyle co-founded FUNDaFIELD.org when he was just 13 years old to raise money to help build soccer fields for kids in Africa. FUNDaFIELD.org has raised more than $138,000, constructed eight soccer fields in Africa, held four soccer tournaments, and delivered uniforms, soccer balls and other necessary supplies.
Lexi Keller, 11, Lockport, NY
Lexi, a heart transplant recipient, raises awareness for Upstate NY Transplant Services (UNYTS). She organizes community blood drives, which have recruited more than 300 donors who have given more than 32 gallons of blood. She also speaks at seminars, hospitals and community events about the importance of organ and blood donation.
Madeline Pelgrim, 14, Oakton, VA
Madeline created Maddie's Blankets, a nonprofit organization which teaches youth about community service by making fleece blankets that are given to children in emergency situations, as well as to animal shelters and rescue organizations. To date, Maddie’s Blankets has made and donated more than 5,000 blankets.
Nicholas Marriam, 18, Clayton, NC
Nicholas founded and helps run the Nickelby Project which provides comfort items and gift bags to children with a chronic or life threatening illness. He manages all aspects involved in running a nonprofit foundation including fundraising, securing sponsors and coordinating volunteers. So far, the Nickelby Project has delivered more than 10,000 gift bags.
Rachel Hackling, 17, Stratford, ON
Rachel started Project Swans during the summer of 2002 to prevent tourists from overfeeding swans. Rachel bags healthy swan food and sells it at local tourist booths to raise money for a local animal shelter while increasing awareness of healthy swan feeding. To date, she has raised over $22,000 for a local animal shelter.
Rujul Zaparde, 16, Plainsboro, NJ
Rujul co-started Drinking Water for India to build tube-wells in rural India. He speaks across the country to encourage involvement and support. Now, 23 schools support Drinking Water for India and, to date, the organization has raised more than $35,000 and built 31 wells in India, providing access to clean water for 55,000 villagers.
Shannon Hill McNamara, 17, Basking Ridge, NJ
Shannon founded Shannon's After-School Reading Exchange (SHARE) to empower girls in Africa through education. She has volunteered in Tanzania to create and fill libraries with donated books. To date, she has raised $200,000 for four libraries, collected 23,000 books, and brought electricity to three schools.
Sharon Li, 13, Manvel, TX
Sharon co-founded a nonprofit organization to help global disaster victims and to engage youth around the world to help others. Her organization has recruited 99 team leaders from four countries with more than 20,000 youth volunteers. Together they have collected more than $66,000 in funds and items.
Shaun Stokes, 17, River Falls, WI
Shaun co-founded Grow-to-Share to provide fresh produce to local food shelters to help feed those in need. He recruits volunteers to help plant, harvest and maintain gardens. Shaun organizes an annual pancake breakfast fundraiser to cover expenses. Grow-to-Share has donated more than 10 tons of fresh produce.
Taylor Quinn, 18, North Vancouver, BC
Taylor founded a nonprofit organization, the Youth, and also volunteers for ten other organizations. He has served as a motivational speaker to groups at leadership conferences, enrichment programs, and schools on what life is truly like in the developing world and what people in the west can do to help eradicate poverty. Taylor has raised more than $20,000 for his cause.
Tyler Page, 14, Brentwood, CA
Tyler started Kids Helping Kids, a nonprofit organization that has raised $130,000 to help children in Ghana. His efforts include helping to establish an academy that teaches kids how to be leaders by focusing on social responsibility, integrity, time management and money management.
About Build-A-Bear Workshop
Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc. is the only global company that offers an interactive make-your-own stuffed animal retail-entertainment experience. The company currently operates more than 400 Build-A-Bear Workshop stores worldwide, including company-owned stores in the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland, and franchise stores in Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, the Middle East, and Mexico. Founded in St. Louis in 1997, Build-A-Bear Workshop is the leader in interactive retail. Brands include make-your-own Major League Baseball® mascot in-stadium locations, and Build-A-Dino® stores. Build-A-Bear Workshop extends its in-store interactive experience online with its award winning virtual world website at Bearville.com™. The company was named to the FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For® list for the third year in a row in 2011. Build-A-Bear Workshop (NYSE: BBW) posted total revenue of $401.5 million in fiscal 2010. For more information, call 888.560.BEAR (2327) or visit the company's award-winning website at buildabear.com®.
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