ANCHORAGE, ALASKA (Aug. 26, 2013) – Alaska Communications, in partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs – Alaska, announced its seven 2013 Summer of Heroes honorees on Sunday, Aug. 25, at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer. Corey Allen-Young joined Andy Coon, vice president and general manager, sales at Alaska Communications, and Alana Humphrey, CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs – Alaska, to present $1,500 scholarship checks to each of the heroes during a special recognition ceremony, thanking them for their community service efforts.
Now in its third year, Summer of Heroes promotes awareness and support for youth development programs throughout the state. As part of the program, Alaska Communications and Boys & Girls Clubs – Alaska recognize youth who are creating a positive impact in the community by raising significant funds for a cause, making a difference in school through education or sports, or inspiring others to take action.
This year’s honorees range from ages 9 to 18 and represent communities across Alaska, including Anchorage, Fairbanks, Seldovia and Stony River, with their unique stories of heroism. The 2013 heroes are:
- Kearstyn Cotten, age 9, Anchorage – Despite having Type 1 diabetes since age six, Kearstyn has never let it stand in her way. She is passionate about increasing awareness about the disease and raising funds for her local chapter of the American Diabetes Association. Kearstyn assists with organizing diabetes fundraisers in Anchorage, including Tour de Cure and Step Out Walk to Stop Diabetes, and getting others involved. She also made an inspirational video to show other kids all the fun and amazing things they can do despite having diabetes. Kearstyn is the recipient of the 2013 employee hero honor, which recognizes a child of an Alaska Communications employee.
- Tyrel and Eric Gusty, ages 13 and 12, Stony River – When Tyrel and Eric’s two-room schoolhouse in the village of Stony River was threatened with closure due to low enrollment, the brothers banded together to ask the school board to keep the school open for another year. They used money they had raised by opening the village’s first store to help offset the deficit and the monthly electricity bill. Driven by their passion for education and their community, Tyrel, Eric and their classmates won’t give up in their efforts to raise the $10,000 needed to keep their school open for another year and keep learning alive for the younger generations.
- Jezzroy Gordon-Wolfe, age 18, Fairbanks – With a passion for the community justice system, Jezzroy is involved with the North Star Youth Court in Fairbanks and worked diligently to become a youth court prosecutor. Outside of the courtroom, he spends his time volunteering and fundraising for many local organizations. He’s involved in cross-age tutoring for the Literacy Council of Alaska; volunteering at the local Food Bank and the public library; and fundraising for his martial arts studio, the Midnight Sun Run, the Fairbanks Resource Agency, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, among other organizations.
- Chance Haller, age 16, Seldovia – Chance’s commitment to community service sets him apart as a role model for other young people. Inspired by his father’s career as the chief of police and volunteer fire chief, Chance has been serving as a volunteer firefighter and emergency trauma technician with the Seldovia Volunteer Fire Department since age 14. He also volunteers his time to help local elementary school kids in the Seldovia Prevention Program, educating kids about drugs, alcohol and other negative influences. Not one to ever slow down, Chance is currently seeking his Firefighter 1 Certification to advance his training and take on more responsibilities at the fire station.
- Sarah Mixsell, age 11, Anchorage – On Sarah’s ninth birthday, she realized how many clothes and toys she already had, and decided that instead of birthday presents, she would much rather have her friends bring toys to give to children in need. Together, her friends assembled “birthday parties in a bag” so that all of the children at the Abused Women’s Aid in Crisis Center in Anchorage could have a present and a birthday celebration of their own. Seeing the positive impact she could make in the lives of others, Sarah was inspired to launch Alaska Kids for Kids, a youth-led nonprofit that encourages kids to make a difference. Now, each year on her birthday, she and her friends spend the day working on a project that helps kids in Alaska.
-Cassie Welch, age 9, Anchorage – After being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age eight, Cassie discovered Tour de Cure, a fundraiser for the American Diabetes Association. A longtime bike rider, Cassie recruited 14 friends and family members to ride with her in the 25K ride, raising more than $5,000. This year, Cassie took it to the next level, building a team of 25 riders who collectively raised $7,200 for the cause. She is now training for a 50k Tour de Cure. Cassie also creates “spirit bracelets” to sell at her school, with the proceeds benefiting the American Diabetes Association.
"When we launched the Summer of Heroes program with Boys & Girls Clubs – Alaska three years ago, we could never have imagined all of the inspiring stories we have heard as the program has grown,” said Heather Cavanaugh, director of corporate communications at Alaska Communications. “We are proud to recognize this year’s youth heroes for their acts of generosity and commitment to their communities."
"Each year during Summer of Heroes we are moved by the stories we hear about children across the state who go above and beyond to make a positive difference,” said Alana Humphrey, CEO at Boys & Girls Clubs – Alaska. “Their selfless actions and compassion for others represent why many of us are proud to call Alaska home. Congratulations to the 2013 youth heroes!"
Since 2011, the Summer of Heroes program has recognized Alaska youth for their acts of generosity, courage and achievement. In addition to the scholarship program, Alaska Communications also pledged to donate $25 to Boys & Girls Clubs – Alaska for every new smartphone sold during the nomination period, up to $15,000. The final donation amount will be announced during Boys & Girls Clubs – Alaska’s 31st Annual Auction Gala on Sept. 14.
For full biographies of each Summer of Heroes scholarship recipient and more information about Alaska Communications’ work in the community, visit www.alaskacommunications.com/summerofheroes. Stay up-to-date on Summer of Heroes initiatives and events by connecting with Alaska Communications on Facebook and Twitter.
About Alaska Communications
Alaska Communications is a leading provider of advanced broadband solutions for businesses and consumers in Alaska. We operate a highly reliable, advanced statewide data and voice network with the latest technology and the most diverse undersea fiber optic system connecting Alaska to the contiguous United States. For more information, visit www.alaskacommunications.com