Travelers' Altrusim Awards: Recipients not your typical teens
Students from schools around Lehigh Valley received recognition for acts of kindness done when they had no expectation of getting a reward or even a "thank you."
The awards, given by Travelers Protective Association Post L Lehigh Valley this spring, included certificates of achievement and cash scholarships for recipients.
Students with challenges and disabilities throughout the area were the real winners, as student body presidents, cheerleaders, and other students lead efforts to help them.
One such action by Salisbury HS's Samantha Heiserman was shared by Salisbury's Mike Anderson who spoke to the roomful of students, parents and school representatives following the meal they had all just shared.
He described how Heiserman had welcomed a group of Intermediate Unit students with "multiple challenges and disabilities" by taking the group to the "Welcome Back Pep Rally" held by the high school.
"What resulted," Anderson said, "was something no one anticipated. Other students began approaching me wanting to get involved with the IU class. Before long the Best Buddies Program was formed."
Another student, Evan Anthony of Freedom HS, led fellow students in efforts that raised over $50,000 for the Four Diamonds Foundation's fight against pediatric cancer.
"It is not often that you come across such a natural, born leader," said English teacher George Ziegler when introducing Student Body President Evan Anthony.
Another student, Olivia Macdonald was introduced by Parkland HS representative Jennifer Tabarani.
"As the Peers Assisting Learning Support Club (PALS) president, Olivia played a vital role in rallying a large high school to promote the acceptance of all student with and without disabilities," Tabarani said.
As keynote speaker, Judge Paula Roscioli observed, "The award recipients gathered here this evening are by no means typical teens. You are outstanding young men and women, and it is a privilege to be here tonight to honor you and your accomplishments."
Roscioli contrasted the honorees with a young girl she had seen in a mall wearing a tee shirt emblazoned, "It's All About Me."
Roscioli compared the act of altruism as being like the philanthropist who donates a large sum of money anonymously without expecting his name to appear on a building.
"Nothing would make me more proud than to have child of mine awarded for the selfless concern for the well-being of others," said Roscioli, a judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County.
The local post of the TPA was represented by its President, Dale Stephens, Vice President Mike Hettler, Chairman of the Board Leroy Hettler and Secretary and Treasurer Patricia Palencar.
The Travelers Protective Association has a tradition of helping communities through supporting travel safety issues, child safety and community service projects.