In a ceremony at the University of Illinois at Chicago, 339 high school students received the Cook County Sheriff's Youth Service Medal of Honor as recognition for volunteering more than 100 hours to their community and others in the last year, Sheriff Thomas J. Dart said.
The event, now in its 26th year took place Dec. 11.
In addition to the minimum of 100 service hours, applicants were required to submit essays about their experiences. Examples of service from this year's winners include volunteering in homeless shelters, hospitals, nursing homes animal shelters and rehab centers; organizing 5K walks; building houses for the poor; and leading mission trips across the globe. The cumulative community service time among the 339 winners eclipsed 35,000 hours
This year's distinguished youth speaker was Jen Rubino. Rubino is the founder of Cards for Hospitalized Kids, a nonprofit organization that works to bring joy to sick children through uplifting cards. As a result of Rubino's efforts, over 40,000 kids in hospitals in all 50 states have received uplifting cards. Jen's inspiration comes from her own experience in a hospital, having undergone 20 plus surgeries in order to beat a connective tissue and bone disease. A Park Ridge native, Jen is a recent graduate of Maine South High School.
2013 Youth Service Medal of Honor Winners include:
Jack Kedroski, Katherine Shanahan, Thomas Topalis and Sang Pil Yoo all of Arlington Heights; Marki Kaim of Elk Grove; Isabella Valdez of Franklin Park; Nicholas DiCristofano and Alicia Leja of Mount Prospect; Monica Schoenfeldt and Olivia Schoenfeldt of Niles; Dong Min Han of Northbrook; Corbin Rusteberg and Bridget Totsch of Park Ridge; Sanjana Shah of Palatine; Natalia Parys of River Grove; Nina Tamras of Streamwood; and Darian Los and Man Tran of Wheeling.
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