Nominate a young hero in Juneau today

Winners of the 2011 Summer of Heroes program each received a scholarship for $1,500 and recognition for their contributions in their communities.

One thing that is clear to anyone who lives in Juneau is that this place is chock full of amazing people. Some of these amazing people were born in a decade so recent, it is reminding the reader how old they have gotten. (Stop, you look great for your age.) Take a moment and think about those amazing young people and what contributions they make in the community, then consider nominating a young person for the Summer of Heroes program, put on by Alaska Communications in partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of Alaska.


The search is on and the deadline is near. To nominate a young person, submit a 400- to 500-word essay and fill out a nomination form by July 23. Young Alaskans can nominate themselves as well.

“The Summer of Heroes program celebrates the wonderful contributions young Alaskans are making to our local communities. It also gives our company a chance to elevate heroic efforts of youth statewide while supporting Boys & Girls Clubs – Alaska’s important programs,” said Heather Cavanaugh, Alaska Communications director of corporate communications. “Last year’s program was so well received by the community that we decided to make it an annual event as we continue to fulfill our promise to provide youth with education and development opportunities to help them succeed.”

These Summer Heroes will receive a $1,500 scholarship and a trip to the Alaska State Fair, where they will be recognized for their contributions.

Alana Humphrey, with Boys & Girls Clubs of Alaska, sees the impact of this kind of recognition for youth.

“By recognizing these kids for doing what they do, you encourage them and inspire other people around them.” Humphrey said.

The scholarship, which can go toward college, technical training or a military program, can serve as encouragement and a boost as well.

Last year’s inaugural Summer of Heroes program recognized five outstanding young people. A press release from ACS highlights the contributions of the 2011 heroes:

Fred Falealili, 18 is a friend, role model and mentor to dozens of kids and teens throughout the Anchorage area. He’s committed to helping other youth achieve success. Fred has impacted many young lives by volunteering at his local church as a Sunday school teacher and through his work with Boys & Girls Clubs – Alaska, where he coaches and leads after-school athletic programs for young men. Currently he serves with the Boys & Girls Club and volunteers his spare time to sing the tenor part with a swing choir at retirement homes and hospitals.

Krista Stapleford, 13, was born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy. She created the “Wheelchair Project,” a program designed to help kids understand what everyday life is like for children living with Muscular Dystrophy. Krista is working with the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) to take the program to other schools throughout Anchorage and the Pacific Northwest. Currently, Krista helps raise funds at MDA telethons, records radio broadcasts and commercials as the Alaska Goodwill Ambassador.

Mersades Basford, 19, consistently puts the needs of others before her own, showing compassion and kindness to everyone she encounters. From sewing blankets for homeless children, to helping abandoned pets find new homes, to volunteering with toy and food drives, it’s heroes like Mersades who make us proud of our Alaska communities. These days she’s volunteering with Hope Community Resources and fundraising for the “For the Love of Lauren” initiative.

Samuel Allred, 12, suffers from a rare kidney disease but he hasn’t let it stand in his way. Instead, Sam founded a non-profit, Kindness for Kids, and wrote a book to support children who are ill and their families, and encourage people around the world to not judge others by the way they look. He is now teaming up with the Nephcure Foundation to help launch the organization’s work in Alaska, and he’s expanding his Project Comfort program to the lower 48 states in partnership with FedEx. He recently acted as the Mayor of Munchkin City in a local production of The Wizard of Oz.

After battling several medical conditions as a child, Jayden Tumbaga, 18, had to grow up quickly, particularly after his parents were in a major car accident that left his dad in need of intense daily care. Jayden took on a job to earn extra income for his family and assisted with his father’s medical care. Even with his responsibilities at home, he remained focused on his academics and commitment to his community, volunteering in special needs classes throughout his school years to help children with severe disabilities. Now our 2011 hero is pursuing a career in pharmacology on a full-ride scholarship to the University of Colorado.

So Alaska Communications is asking parents, teachers, mentors, coaches, friends and children to nominate youth between the ages of 6 and 18 who have made an impact in the community. Examples of what defines a local “hero” include those who saved a person’s life, made a difference by volunteering, raised funds for a cause, or contributed to his or her community in a way that is above and beyond.

For more information or to nominate a young hero in your life, visit

In other good news, Alaska Communications has also committed to donating $25 for every smart phone purchased between May 23 and July 23 to Boys & Girls Clubs of Alaska — it seems the time to upgrade is now for ACS customers.

• Contact Neighbors editor Melissa Griffiths at 523-2272 or at


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