10-Year-Old Wins 2010 Military Child Award
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Perseverance, resilience and honor. These are the characteristics that define Operation Homefront’s 2010 Lockheed Martin Military Child Award winner.
Willie Banks III, 10, of Fort Lee, Va., was chosen as this year’s recipient after an online vote to narrow the semi-finalists to five choices and a final vote by a panel of judges.
The fourth-grader was chosen from a field of nearly 700 nominations submitted from around the globe. Willie will receive $5,000 cash and a trip to Washington, D.C., to attend a ceremony in his honor. Lockheed Martin is sponsoring the award and TriWest Health Alliance is sponsoring the award luncheon.
Upon learning of her son’s win, his mother, Army Chief Warrant Officer Felicia Banks, was at a loss for words.
“Willie is a great representative of the tens of thousands of military kids,” said Jim Knotts, Operation Homefront CEO. “The price of peace is paid by the entire military family, especially the kids. Through constants moves, frequent deployments, and even sometimes the loss of a parent, our military children are on the front lines of freedom even though they’re back on the homefront.”
“My gratitude to those who voted and the committee is very deep,” she said. “It takes special people to recognize special children, and a lot of times youth aren’t recognized.”
Willie’s father, an Army major, died of cancer when he was 4 years old. Felicia, a warrant officer, deployed a year later. She did not return home for any R&R leave for fear of making the separation even harder on Willie and his younger sister while the children stayed with their grandmother.
Felicia said Willie is active in local sports and always willing to lend a hand to children in his class and neighborhood. It’s a trait Felicia attributes to his father. Willie’s father, the nomination letter read, had a “deep conviction for helping and serving others in the community and in the church and in school.”
Willie also takes part in a program through his church called Lads to Leaders, which teaches public speaking and event organizing. He helped the organization build care packages to send to Haiti after the massive earthquake there.
Even though he is only 10, Willie already hopes to follow in his parents’ bootsteps. He has plans to apply to West Point and become an Army officer.
Felicia said she thinks winning the Military Child Award will help drive him toward his goal.
“I think it will benefit him not just today, but for years to come,” she said. “I think it will help shape his life.”
The other four finalists and their nominations included:
Andrew Babb, 17, Kingsland, Ga.
Andrew Babb is an exceptional military child. He is smart and a hard worker. He carries a heavy load at school, including AP classes. He is also a National Merit Scholarship Finalist. He is on the Camden County High School swim team. He has held a spot on the state qualifying relay all four years of high school. Andrew is also a Life Scout in Boy Scout Troop 226 who is working on his Eagle Project. He also serves as Junior Assistant Scoutmaster for the troop where he helps the Scoutmaster with organizational and leadership tasks. He sets a positive example for younger Scouts, including his younger brother, and teaches them skills necessary to becoming productive adults. In addition to all of his extra-curricular activities, Andrew works part-time at the local movie theater and tutors a seventh-grader in math. Andrew has accomplished all of this while living the hardships and the privileges of being a military child. Moving and changing schools have been difficult at best for a child whose nature it is to be shy. However, the moving and changing schools has also forced him to learn to change and adapt. He has also gotten to go places and see things in his 17 years that most people don't over a lifetime. All of this has contributed to who he is, an exceptional military child.
Cavan McIntyre-Brewer, 8, Fayetteville, N.C.
Cavan helped collect over $500 worth of hygiene products for the Sunflower Children Project, part of Brittany's Hope. He collects pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald Houses, over 30,000 to the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House specifically in the past year. He continues to collect tabs through his church and Cub Scouting by advocating for the Ronald McDonald House with his own experiences. Cavan regularly donates his Christmas gifts to children living at the Ronald McDonald House annually. Cavan is a Wolf Cub in Boy Scouts at Cokesbury United Methodist Church in Fayetteville, N.C. He has acquired 14 belt loops, does presentations to groups about the merits of service and therapy dogs raising awareness for special needs animals and adopting and/or fostering disabled animals. He also regularly picks up litter in the Stedman/Eastover, NC area in order to help preserve the environment and encourages others to recycle. This also includes sorting waste for recycling materials at his church on Wednesday nights. Cavan is an annual team member for the March of Dimes March for Babies. He has been a walker since 2005. Cavan is also currently helping to restore funds for the Spencer's Fund program operated by The Children's Heart Information Network, which helps families facing medical treatment away from home. He tries to help support the troops and their families by participating in such events as the Fourth of July Celebration at Fort Bragg by handing out G.I. Joe dolls and lunch to families of deployed service members, Veterans Day parades, and being a good role model while his father is deployed.
Eric Lopez, 17, Oceanside, Calif.
Eric does not seek to be honored but rather seeks to honor his family and community through demonstrating that education is the way of hope and opportunity. When Eric speaks, others listen, not only because he insightful, but also because he has encouraged and affirmed his peers daily and established a respect few can command. Eric has spent hundreds of hours tutoring at-risk students to ensure they are equipped to reach their dreams. Altruistic in his approach to life, he believes his pain is not wasted but must be used as a driving force to create opportunity not just for himself but for others. His mother works two jobs to provide for the family, which means that Eric arrives home to feed his three brothers, help them with their homework, get them in the shower, and put them to bed. His homework begins at 10 p.m., and he has managed to prioritize this heavy workload with such success that he has earned an A average in spite of the demands of his rigorous schedule. His brother Christian, a freshman at San Clemente High School, follows his example and not only earns all A’s but has joined with Eric as a dynamic tutor in After School Tutorial Program. Eric is not only an academic inspiration but a leader when it comes to the art of relationship. He welcomes challenges, listens, collaborates, problem-solves and unifies, bringing out the best in those who surround him. His intellect combined with his interpersonal skills will find him success in the computer engineering world. Eric can be found on any Monday or Wednesday working his five hours each week in the After School Tutorial Program as the leader of the calculus or physics section. Eric has transformed from a brilliant yet shy individual, reluctant to approach new students as a freshman, into the go-to guy as a senior who is the most respected tutor in the After School Tutorial Program. Eric has a unique gift in his ability to translate complex concepts into simple terminology that any level student can comprehend. As a young man of influence, his inspirational leadership was noticed by his A.P. calculus teacher, which led Mr. Auerbach to choose Eric to take his place when he was unable to make tutorial. He was not only chosen to run the A.P. calculus table, but he also steps in for honors physics and history. As a bilingual tutor, Eric is able to cross over cultural barriers and come alongside at-risk students who have been overlooked. He is able to connect and mentor them in habits of success. For these reasons, he is a force at San Clemente High School, in the community and at Camp Pendleton Marine Base because of his positive influence among his peers. In the future, he plans to continue his altruistic service and work with youth to promote higher education.
Brandon Schreckhise, 15, White Sands Missile Range, N.M.
Brandon Schreckhise serves as a wonderful example to the youth of the White Sands Missile Range community through his examples of devotion, dedication, and caring spirit. He is a type-1 diabetic and happily educates other children about diabetes and demonstrates it is not an excuse and it does not stop him from living a full and active life. Brandon is a very active youth, participating in after school activities, but he still found time to volunteer his time, energy and compassion with his church and the school. Brandon is a regular altar server with the Sierra Catholic Chapel and performed as an altar server nearly every weekend this past year. He energetically filled vacancies in the server schedule to ensure the priest had the necessary support to deliver a quality mass. Brandon had a very active role on the White Sands School Student Council assisting with putting together the annual year book. He specifically focused on the collection and layout of the photos. During the WSS PTA 5K fundraiser preparations, Brandon helped his mom prepare the entry packets and sort the awards in advance to ensure a smooth ceremony. After the 5K, he helped with preparations of the awards ceremony and prize distribution. Brandon has a desire to help the youth and set a good example. He works at the youth center in the tech center teaching children how to use computers and set up the new computers received this year. He swims, maintains all A’s and B’s at school, and still finds time to demonstrate the importance of giving back to his community. He is a wonderful example to all and I am proud to nominate him for the 2010 Military Child Award.
Willie Banks III, 10, Fort Lee, Va.
Willie is an exemplary military child who excels at school, sports, extra-curricular activities and volunteers in support of his community. He has a friendly and neighborly demeanor and is an advocate of assisting and helping both his subordinates, peers and superiors in an intelligent and mature manner. His father is a deceased Army major and instilled discipline and a deep conviction for helping and serving others in the community and in the church and in school. Further, his mother, CW3 Felicia Banks ensures that Willie is active in the community and is a leader on the sports playing field and in school. Willie has handled the death of his father very maturely and the deployment of his mother in support of Operation Iraqi freedom, he has grown to be a mature young man who assists in the raising of his younger sister and is always willing to lend a helping hand to the children in his class and the neighborhood both with regard to his school work and his sports. He has a giving nature and is deeply spiritual and is seen as a role model for many children to emulate in the community. He is eager to travel, see and to experience the world. He is currently assisting in the preparation of another permanent change of station. He is looking forward to applying for and being accepted to the United States Military Academy and serving his nation as his beloved father did and his mother does today. I can think of no better-suited young man to receive this very prestigious and gracious award than Willie, and I look forward to assisting in any manner necessary to further develop your understanding of him and his life.
About Operation Homefront
Operation Homefront provides emergency assistance for our troops, the families they leave behind and for wounded warriors when they return home. A national nonprofit, Operation Homefront leads more than 4,500 volunteers in two dozen chapters nationwide, and has met more than 257,000 needs since 2002. A four-star rated charity by watchdog Charity Navigator, nationally, $.95 of every dollar donated to Operation Homefront goes to programs.