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‘Kids of Distinction’ Program Winners Announced

Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto and Kids Helping Kids by Kids Way, Inc. co-founders Robert A.J. and Philip M. Eslick have announced the winners of the 2011 “Kids of Distinction” Program, created to recognize exceptional youngsters in the Town of Oyster Bay.

The winners were selected by the organization Kids Helping Kids by Kids Way, Inc., which established a committee to judge applications.

“We have so many exceptional young people living in the town that I’m certain it wasn’t easy selecting just a handful of recipients,” Venditto said. “I thank the committee for their hard work and dedication in designating these fine six individuals.”

“This program is very much geared towards recognizing activities done on a youngster’s own initiative,” Robert said. “We are recognizing kids who participate in activities for the benefit of their community of neighborhood, outside of school-related activities.”

The six winners selected as “Kids of Distinction” for 2011 are:

Alexa Paige Miller

Sixth Grade, Woodbury, HB Thompson Middle School

Last summer, 11-year-old Alexa Paige Miller was watching her favorite show, So You Think You Can Dance, when it occurred to her how lucky she was to be able to take dance classes and do what she loves most. She began thinking that she didn’t know what she would do if she did not have the funds to get a dance education and pursue her dreams.

Alexa decided to make a difference by making custom-made beaded bracelets to sell in order to help those with monetary issues who shared her dream to dance. Alexa ended up raising $600, which she proudly donated to “The Dizzy Feet Foundation.”

This March, Alexa organized a Dance-a-Thon called “Alexa’s Dance-a-Thon of Dreams,” a fundraiser to help those talented dancers realize their dreams. All in all, the fundraiser was a huge success, and Alexa raised just over $7,000.

Alexa’s dedication to helping others is evident through her hard work and determination.

Tara Silberg

Sixth Grade, Jericho, Jericho Middle School    

From an early age, Tara has been interested in raising money to help those in need. Watching and cheering for her mother, an active member of Leukemia and Lymphoma’s Team in Training, Tara awaited the day when she could participate in her own charity event. At age 9, Tara participated in her first Multiple Sclerosis Bike Tour and raised more than $300 for the MS Society.

Tara has participated in several more MS Bike Tours, and this year, was named an MVP fundraiser of her team after raising more than $1,200. In January, Tara took part in the MS event “Climb to the Top of the Rock,” climbing 66 flights of stairs to support a cure for MS. Tara also recently cut her hair in honor of her late grandmother’s battle with breast cancer. She donated her locks to “Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths” so that wigs could be made for women and children with cancer.

Tara is currently planning her next fundraiser as part of her upcoming Bat Mitzvah. She has enlisted friends and family to help her sell homemade lemonade. All profits will be donated to Alex’s Lemonade Stand, a charity that helps kids with cancer.

Andrew Fierstein

Tenth Grade, Old Brookville, North Shore High School    

Andrew has spent the past six years volunteering in his spare time for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. But, unlike most high school sophomores, Andrew’s reasons for volunteering hit much closer to home: his own 11-year battle with cancer. Even after having gone through six major surgeries, this young man has been able to turn his story into a tale of inspiration and hope.

Andrew has spread his message of hope and perseverance in the face of insurmountable odds at many American Cancer Society events, touching the lives of thousands. Since Relay for Life has come to North Shore in 2007, Andrew has been a constant force that keeps the support of many for the American Cancer Society’s mission to eradicate cancer.

In the five years that Andrew and his LiveStrong Team have participated in Relay for Life, they have raised more than $125,000.

Natalie Gramegna

Ninth Grade, Massapequa, Massapequa High School

Natalie is a ninth-grade student attending Massapequa High School – Ames Campus. In addition to being an honor student, musician, and dancer, Natalie contributes to the community with a majority of her work centering on helping children in Massapequa.

Natalie has been involved in many aspects of service around the community, including being a teacher’s aide at Young People’s Cultural Arts Workshop; being a member of the Key Club at Massapequa High School, which involves planning coat and toy drives and UNICEF collections; as well as being an aide at Massapequa High Schools Foreign Language Festival, among a litany of other charitable works as well. Natalie has put forth an extensive amount of effort and dedication within the community.

Christopher Yao

Ninth Grade, Jericho, Jericho High School

Christopher Yao embodies the definition of a young leader. His quiet demeanor and natural intelligence are what make him stand out among his peers. Christopher’s exceptional work ethic and grades reveal a young man striving to achieve his personal best.

Christopher has directed his energy into developing two non-profit organizations: Kids Help America and Kids Change the World. These two organizations work to raise funds for a variety of worthy programs such as “The Smile Train,” for cleft lip surgery; “Supplies for Students,” which provides school supplies for homeless students; and “Americans Thank,” where the community sends cards and letters to troops overseas.

Christopher continues to spread his message of service to others each and every day. Through his hard work, Christopher both empowers and challenges his peers to work together in order to make the world a better place.

Nora M. Reade

Twelfth Grade, Massapequa Park, Farmingdale High School

Nora has been a positive person and active member in the community since she could walk. As a four-year member of the Lady Dalers Varsity Swimming and Diving Team, Nora started the “Lady Daler Polar Bears” and organizes many ocean dips for worthy causes such as American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Red Cross and NYS Special Olympics.

Nora has also coordinated Farmingdale’s SPLASH (Special Swimming Program for Lifelong Aquatic Safety and Health) program, which is an instructional swim program for children with special needs in the Farmingdale community. Nora has been a part of the American Cancer Society for a very long time. From Making Strides Against Breast Cancer at Jones Beach to Dog-Walk Against Cancer at Eisenhower Park, she has been proactively involved. She was even a co-captain of the Massapequa Relay for Life. Nora is also very fond of American Sign Language (ASL) as a second language. She assists the director of Deaf Ministries for the Diocese of Rockville Centre and attends Sunday Mass in ASL. She has contributed much of her time and effort to supporting the community and watching it flourish.