May 31, 2013 - From staff reportsWASHINGTON, D.C. --Wyoming's top two youth volunteers of 2013, Darlee Hyatt, 18, of Riverton, and Rachel Ehlers, 14, of Newcastle, were honored in the nation's capital recently for their volunteer service during the 18th annual presentation of The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.
Hyatt and Ehlers --along with 100 other top youth volunteers from across the country --each received $1,000 awards and personal congratulations from Academy Award-winning actor Kevin Spacey and Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix at an award ceremony and gala dinner reception held at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program, sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals, named Hyatt and Ehlers Wyoming's top high school and middle level youth volunteers in February. In addition to their cash awards, they each received an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip with a parent to Washington, D.C., for four days of recognition events.
Hyatt, a senior at Wind River High School, helped raise $28,000 over the past two years for veterans and people with cancer in her community by working on an annual week of fundraising activities at her school. The first year, when her school began planning an event to assist two local women who were fighting cancer, Hyatt jumped in to help.
"I felt it was important to be part of a group who touched the lives of others in a positive way," she said.
Hyatt was even more motivated the following year when the school chose local veterans to be the beneficiaries of its fundraising. Hyatt's cousin had served two tours in Iraq. Hyatt helped plan the week of fundraising activities, visited local businesses to seek donations, and helped conduct a silent auction during boys and girls basketball games. Again, the week produced $10,000, which went to support the families of two local military veterans. As the main organizer of this year's event, the service week raised $8,000.
"I love the idea of helping someone when they need it most," she said.
Hyatt is a two-time Student of the Week, is on the honor roll and is a member of the National Honor Society and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. The class president has also lettered in volleyball and basketball, and she is a recipient of the Girls State Scholarship for Central Wyoming College, where she plans to attend after graduation to study early childhood education.
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