Las Vegans Mollie Singer, 18, and Heather Wilder, 13, have been named Nevada's top youth volunteers for the 2007 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.
The national program, which honors young people for their acts of volunteerism, selected one high-schooler and one middle-schooler from each state and the District of Columbia to attend national recognition events in Washington, D.C., in May. While in Washington, 10 students will be named America's top youth volunteers for 2007.
In addition to the two state representatives, the program also named four young Nevadans Distinguished Finalists: Paulina Yeh, 17, a senior at Valley High School; Mikaela Alger, 18, of Reno; Nicholas Belanger, 17, of Winnemucca; and Rachael Lambin, 16, of Gardnerville.
Mollie, a senior at Nevada High School, was recognized for her fundraising and other work in the fight against diabetes.
Heather, a seventh-grader at Becker Middle School, has co-authored booklets for foster care children. In the booklets, Heather shares her own experiences in foster care. The booklets are distributed to children through local agencies including the Department of Child and Family Services and counseling centers for foster children.
As Nevada's top youth volunteers, Mollie and Heather each received $1,000 and an engraved silver medallion.
"It's an honor to be named," Mollie said. "I'm so proud to represent my high school and Nevada."
A diabetic since the age of 4, Mollie has produced a video diary about living with diabetes, participated in public service announcements and helped write the booklet "The Road to a Cure."
Both Mollie and her twin sister, Jackie, are actively involved in raising awareness about diabetes. Together the sisters have done fundraising for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, formed a support group for young diabetics and last fall led Mollie's Mafia, a walk team for the annual Walk to Cure Diabetes.
"We are in all the same classes, we do everything together, all the advocating, everything," Mollie said. Jackie is not a diabetic, but gets tested every year for the disease.
For Mollie, living with diabetes is "workable and I can live each day and try and live a normal life."
"It's a challenge," she added. "I try and tell everybody it's another challenge I have in life. Sometimes it makes life more difficult."
But living with diabetes has gotten easier for her since she received an insulin pump in 2000.
"I love it," said Mollie, who had been taking four to six insulin shots a day for seven years depending on her blood sugar levels. "It gave me back my life."
Mollie and Jackie have both been accepted to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Honors College, and plan to continue to raise awareness of the fight against diabetes.
"I really want a cure for diabetes," said Mollie, who encourages others to volunteer. "Volunteering is a gift you give yourself as well as others."
If you know of a worthy candidate for this column, mail information to Youth Spotlight, Las Vegas Review-Journal, P.O. Box 70, Las Vegas, NV 89125-0070, or send faxes to 383-4676.