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Two military children who have formed their own nonprofit organizations to help others are among the five youths named as recipients of the nonprofit Operation Homefront’s 2014 Military Child of the Year awards.
Each of the five will receive $5,000, and will be flown with a parent or guardian to Washington, D.C., for a special recognition gala April 10. Senior leaders of each branch of service will present the awards, and the keynote speaker will be Bret Michaels, a singer, songwriter, entrepreneur and philanthropist.
The winners were chosen from a pool of nearly 1,000 nominees. A committee of people including active-duty and retired military personnel, spouses of senior military leaders, veterans service organization leaders, teachers and community members made the selections. The recipients:
Army: Kenzie Hall, 14, of Temecula, Calif., created an organization called Bratpack 11 when she was 11 years old to help military kids in her school make connections and deal with their unique issues. That effort evolved into an organization she created to grant wishes to military kids who have lost a parent in combat, or have had a parent injured in combat. She’s the daughter of Army Capt. Jason and Aerica Hall; her father is stationed at the Army Recruiting Battalion in Southern California.
Marine Corps: Michael-Logan Burke Jordan, 15, of Kailua, Hawaii, is president of his foundation, the Logan’s Heroes Foundation, which helps wounded warriors, first responders and disadvantaged children. Michael-Logan, the son of Marine Corps Master Sgt. Christopher Jordan, was diagnosed at age 3 with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which limits his mobility and requires biologic/chemotherapy infusions, injections, multiple oral medications, physical therapy and surgeries. Michael-Logan is an ambassador for the Arthritis Foundation; at age 13 he spoke to lawmakers in Congress about arthritis and the need for board-certified pediatric rheumatologists within the Defense Department community, and access to life-saving drugs. He wants to become a pediatric rheumatologist, focusing his practice within military treatment facilities.
Coast Guard: Another winner wants to enter the medical field to work with children — aspiring pediatrician Juanita Lindsay Collins, 17, of Clearwater, Fla. She’s the daughter of Chief Yeoman Tafaoga Collins, stationed at Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, and Ricky Collins, a security guard. Juanita is “a young woman of talent, character and integrity who maintains a 4.5 cumulative weighted [grade point average] and is ranked number five out of 305 seniors,” wrote Courtney Ward, who nominated Juanita for the award. Ward is her guidance counselor for the Exploring Careers and Education in Leadership magnet program at Largo High School.
Navy: Ryan Patrick Curtin, who turns 18 on March 14, is an Eagle Scout, and recently received an award for 500 annual volunteer hours. He’s president of the Youth Ambassador Program at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas, and president of the Flour Bluff High School Student-to-Student program, helping new students make the transition. He began his senior year in bed, unable to walk after major surgery to remedy a birth defect, but he recovered faster than expected and was able to rejoin his teammates on the soccer team. His father is Navy Capt. Rex Curtin, stationed at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi. His mother, Lisa, currently serves as interim director of the installation’s Navy and Marine Corps Relief Society office.
Air Force: Gage Alan Dabin, 18, of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, wants to serve in the military as a foreign area officer or in special operations — and then become a war correspondent after he retires. He has received nominations to all the service academies and is awaiting an appointment. Gage shows more character and integrity than adults twice his age, said Amey Armachain, who serves on the board of directors of Anchorage’s Promise. Gage volunteers with that organization’s youth advisory board. “The moment Gage joined the committee, he showed his commitment to service, his leadership, and a level of character you don’t typically see in youth his age,” she wrote. Gage’s father is Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Tobias Adam, deputy fire chief with the 673rd Civil Engineer Squadron at the joint base; his mother, Jennifer, is a mortgage specialist.■