Be Brave for Life: Pawlet Student Wins National Award

Be Brave for Life: Pawlet Student Wins National Award

Be Brave for Life: Pawlet Student Wins National Award

Riley Callen

Riley Callen

When it comes to making their communities better places to live, kids do remarkably creative things to make a difference. The Prudential Spirit Of Community Awards is seeking entries for 2018 until November 7 of this year. The top ten national winners are selected by a judging panel with representatives from some of America’s leading service and education organizations each May to receive $5,000, a gold medallion, a crystal trophy for their nominating organization and a $5,000 Prudential Foundation grant for the charitable organization of their choice. If you know of a youth you would like to nominate for consideration, visit prudential-spirit-of-community-awards-nassp or call  855-670-4787.

Last year, there were more than 33,000 participants in the contest. One of the winners chosen was Riley Callen, 14, of Pawlet, who founded an annual hike-a-thon that has raised more than $250,000 to help find a cure for brain tumors, like the ones that have affected her since she was eight years old. It took two major surgeries to remove the first benign tumor in Riley’s brainstem, and another to extract a second tumor three years later. While recovering in the hospital, Riley told her mother she wanted to focus on how she could turn her experience into something positive. “I wanted to help find a cure, not just for myself, but for everyone out there like me,” she said. Riley, along with her mother, who also had a brain tumor, decided to stage the first Be Brave for Life hike-a-thon to raise money for tumor research. More than 500 people came; the following year, a scavenger hunt, silent auction and live music were added to the event in support of research programs at hospitals in Boston and Phoenix. “It makes me feel good to be a part of something that is bigger than just me,” says Riley.

This year’s Be Brave for Life Hike-A-Thon will be held at Merck Forest and Farmland Center in Rupert on Saturday, October 1, to inform, support and improve the lives of individuals affected by benign brain tumors and cerebrovascular disease, and drive research for a cure. Register at runsignup.com/Race/VT/Rupert/Bebravehike through September 30, set a hiking goal between one and three hours and/or take part in one of three Scavenger Hunts.

This is the Be Brave For Life Foundation’s third year of working towards raising awareness and fundraising for benign brain tumor and cerebrovascular disease research. The organization’s Hike-A-Thon and Basket Bonanza have been wildly successful over the past two years enabling them to raise over $350,000 since its founding in 2015. To find out more about their mission, make a tax-deductible donation and learn about brain tumors, visit bebrave.life.

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