'Amazing kids' honored for contributions, tackling causes
Before he was a 1984 U.S. Olympic gold medalist ice skater, four-time world champion and four-time U.S. champion, Scott Hamilton says he was bullied as a kid.
"I grew up in a small town and was a sick kid," which made him a target, Hamilton told a crowd of about 100 who gathered Thursday afternoon, Oct. 30, at Adventist Medical Center in Southeast Portland.
Hamilton was the keynote speaker at the 2014 "Amazing Kids" banquet, a first-time event hosted by Pamplin Media Group.
As Hamilton became a father, he says, he found himself talking about bullying with his son, in fifth grade.
Apparently there was one little boy who was always picked last for teams. One day, Hamilton says, his son was the captain and picked that boy first: "He just wanted him to know what it was like to be picked first."
"There is hope in this world, and it lives and breathes in these beautiful children here," Hamilton, a cancer survivor, told the crowd. "I'm 56 and I haven't done most of what these kids have done here."
The retired athlete was addressing the 22 students from across the region who are the first recipients of the Amazing Kids award, sponsored by Adventist Medical Center and TriMet, and co-sponsored by dozens of local businesses.
Ranging in age from 8 to 18, the students were nominated by their parents, educators and community members based on the difference they're making in their world.
Some are battling bullying at their school. Some are helping the homeless or veterans or mentoring their peers; some are raising money for world hunger and helping cancer patients.
One young woman is the first Rose Festival queen from outside of Portland. Another was a recipient of the Make-A-Wish program and is paying it forward as a spokesperson.
Many are top scholars, earning 4.0 GPAs with Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate classes. Many are juggling heavy loads with music, drama and sports. One boy was the first child reporter to interview a sitting president. And one young aspiring actress has already scored parts in "Portlandia" and the upcoming "Wild" movie, starring Reese Witherspoon.
Act like a winner
Dr. Robert Pamplin Jr. chairman, president and chief executive officer of R.B. Pamplin Corp, the Portland Tribune and the 24 other Community Newspapers, and radio stations KPAM and KKOV started off with a bit about Charlie Brown.
"It's a tough burden to have this awesome potential, and you can't do anything with it," he said. "These young people have potential, and they have done something with it."
Pamplin, 73, peppered his remarks with inspiring messages for the students, like: "As you dream and imagine to make it come true, if you want it to happen, it takes work. Go deep." And: "You don't get it all until you've given it all. You are your best salesman. As you're a winner, always act like a winner. Be a winner."
Pamplin said his "three essential traits" are to believe in oneself, contribute to society, and never quit.
He also stressed the value of exercise, in order to keep the body and mind sharp. As a parting gift, he told the students he's giving them a treat: a copy of the comic book he wrote, called "Why I Exercise."
Pamplin shook hands with each of the honorees as parents and community members and cheered them on.
Here are the honorees:
From Beaverton, Anika Raghuvanshi, 17, a Jesuit High School senior and youth board member for REAL Youth-to-Youth, which supports underprivileged rural communities.
From Canby, Lauren Sandberg, 13, a Baker Prairie Middle School eighth-grader who helps with the Aspire Project, providing dance lessons for underserved youth.
From North Clackmas, Curtis Loy, 14, a freshman at Clackamas Web Academy and the Sabin-Schellenberg Professional Technical Center who serves in the Civil Air Patrol and helps vets and low-income kids.
From Estacada, Noemi Castrejon, an eighth-grader at Estacada Junior High School who wants to be the first in her family to attend college.
From Forest Grove, Trapper Giesbers, 10, a student at Banks Elementary and Cub Scout who always helps others and aspires to be a math professor.
From Gladstone, Andra Breshears, a senior at Gladstone High School, who coordinated her school's first Give Back Day of community service.
From Gresham, Ana Parvankin, a senior at Barlow High School, a student body leader and valedictorian.
From Hillsboro, Jacob Schroeder, 15, a freshman at Liberty High School, owner of his own business, Imagine Balloons, and a former youth reporter for Scholastic News who has interviewed President Barack Obama, Arizona Sen. John McCain and other U.S. leaders.
From Lake Oswego, Mack Hubbell, 17, a senior at Lake Oswego High School who spearheaded a school supply drive to collect 500 backpacks for Hurricane Katrina victims.
From Jefferson County, Kiturah Cloud, 16, a 4-H Club leader in Culver and creator of "Knot Alone" fleece blankets for chemo patients
From Molalla, Luis Mendoza, 17, a Molalla High School senior and organizer of Molalla's Share the Love campaign, which raises $20,000 per year for a medically fragile and needy family
From Newberg, Skylar Atkinson, a Newberg High School junior who practices Tang Soo Do, a Korean martial art, and plays saxophone in three school bands.
From Oregon City, Madisyn Montgomery, a sophomore at Oregon City High School who started a "Continue to Find Kindness" campaign at her school to combat bullying.
From Portland, MeiLan Wechsler, a fifth-grader at Hayhurst Elementary School, who raised $2,000 with homemade bookmarks and origami boxes for two organizations to fight hunger.
From Prineville, Trevor Rasmussen, a senior at Crook County High School who is an all-league offensive and defensive lineman in football and state champion wrestler who campaigns against bullying.
From Sandy, Alexa Ambrosius, 8, an Oregon Trail Academy third-grader who started a canned food drive to benefit her local food bank.
From Scappoose, Hayden Liao, 15, a Scappoose High School sophomore who mentors young students in music.
From Sherwood, Catie Clifford, 18, a Sherwood High School senior who created a video to teach her peers about the dangers of sex trafficking.
From Tigard, Lily Moser, 13, an eighth-grader at Beaverton's Arts and Communication Magnet Academy, speaks on behalf of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
From Tualatin, Evelin Gutierrez, 16, a Tualatin High School junior who tutors English Language Learners at her school in math
From West Linn, Emma Waibel, a senior at West Linn High School and Portland's 2014 Rose Festival Queen and volunteer for Friends of Trees and other organizations.
From Wilsonville, Carson Puppo, 9, a student at Boones Ferry Primary and owner of his own lawn-mowing business, Junior Cut, who volunteers with local organizations to help his community.
From Woodburn, Julizza Ramirez, 17, a senior at Woodburn High School who overcame her learning disability and volunteers with many local organizations.
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