Outstanding Friend to Kids Awards

Now in its tenth year, the Weller Health Education Center’s Outstanding Friend to Kids awards recognize individuals and organizations who are making a powerful, positive impact on the lives of young people in our region. Outstanding Friend to Kids provides us with a great opportunity to remind the community of the challenges our children face each day and to tout the unselfishly heroic efforts of those who enrich the lives of these children through their interest, dedication and commitment.
The award ceremony is a two-hour cocktail reception and is scheduled from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 10, 2014 at Lehigh Country Club. This year, all proceeds from the event support the Weller Center’s new substance abuse prevention programs which will be presented to tens of thousands of school children in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. More than 200 corporate and community leaders are expected to attend!
The 2014 honorees join an elite group whose concern for the well-being of others has positively impacted the lives of children and shaped their futures.
First, we’re thrilled to present the Inspiration Award to Shane Burcaw. A Lehigh Valley native, Shane was born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a genetic disease causing progressive muscle degeneration which has left him confined to a wheelchair since he was two. Motivated by a passion for making people laugh and unfailing optimism, Shane has traveled the country as a motivational speaker helping others understand how a positive attitude and sense of humor can be life changing. Shane’s powerful message of how humor can help us cope with adversity has touched millions of readers and viewers. Shane and his story have been featured on Katie Couric, in the Huffington Post and SoulPancake just to name a few. A 21-year-old senior at Moravian College studying English, Shane writes a blog with over a half a million readers and his first book will be out in Fall 2014. He continues to give back through his nonprofit organization, Laughing At My Nightmare, which raises money to support Muscular Dystrophy research.
We are also pleased to honor a young woman who has made an incredible difference in the lives of children and teens across Pennsylvania—Kaitlyn Miller. As the 2012 Miss Pennsylvania Outstanding Teen, Kaitlyn has had the unique opportunity to help children from the Lehigh Valley as well as statewide through her tireless community service activities. As an ambassador for the KidsPeace and Teen Central organizations, Kaitlyn serves as a mentor to kids who are having personal problems. Having lost her grandmother when she was very young, Kaitlyn has also championed children's grief awareness and has helped innumerable children and families connect with resources to help them cope with the loss of their loved ones through her work with Highmark Caring Place. Along with these organizations, Kaitlyn has worked closely with the Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) organization, raising more than $15,000. Through her title as Miss Pennsylvania's Outstanding Teen, Kaitlyn earned a full-tuition scholarship to study at DeSales University where she is currently a full-time student.

Finally, with immense pride we recognize the Bethlehem Area School District with the Education Award for its commitment to children’s health and well-being and extraordinary efforts to create a healthy and safe learning environment for all students throughout the district.

For additional details and sponsorship information, please contact Lisa Liddington, vice president of community partnerships, at lliddington@wellercenter.org or 610.258.8500 ext. 18 or download the sponsorship form here


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