Last night was the start of the Prudential Spirit of the Community award festivities. We had an awards banquet in Dallas at the Symphony Meyerson, and then this morning we had an awards banquet at Emily's School. I am sure everyone knows, but if you are just tuning into my blog, Emily was named the Middle Youth state winner of Texas for Prudential's award based on her Smile Boxes charity. We are very proud. It is a huge honor for her.
So Mike met me at work, and picked me up about 4pm, and we headed through Dallas traffic to get to the banquet. We were greeted by nice people with Prudential, and were given a wonderful dinner. Out of a 1000 applicants in Texas there were 74 finalists, and a large amount of them were there last night. The top finalists, and two winners gave speeches. While the other kids were speaking Emily kept nudging me telling me how impressive their work was. They spoke eloquently, and properly delivered exactly what their charity was about. I could tell Emily was beginning to shift in her seat, and she mentioned to me how she thought people would be disappointed in her charity. I shook my head, and assured her she is doing a wonderful job. So it was Emily's turn, and she gathered her little speech we had put together. She had mentioned what she wanted to say, and I had typed it all out for her. She then timidly walked up to the podium, and began to speak....
"Hi everyone, I am Emily Lites, and I am 11. I know I am not suppose to read a speech, but I get flustered in front of crowds, so just know it's from the heart. I want to thank Prudential for giving me such a wonderful award. I cannot wait to get to Washington DC, and learn about our country. I promise I will represent the great state of Texas with pride! I started Emily's Smile Boxes after my baby brother Jude suffered a stroke before her was born. We actually thought everything was okay, but at three months he had a seizure. Since that time Jude can suffer as many as 70 seizures a day without medication, and as many as 15 with medication. This causes major issues, and Jude has spent lots of time in the hospital. I sit by Jude's side when he is sick but I have found hospital to be boring, and sad. So I decided to make Emily's Smile Boxes to cheer up the other patients, and their siblings. I thought my idea was pretty simple, and I was surprised to receive rewards for doing something I love so much. I told my mom I never do this for an award, but just to make other kids happy. To date I have passed out more than 750 boxes, and I like to think that made 750 people really happy!"
Then she slowly left the stage to a round of applause, and we looked around......we looked, and everyone had tears in their eyes. I patted Em on the back, and she just smiled.
Even Jude had a name tag
The other winner for the state of Texas is Ben Slater, who is an amazing young man. I was drawn to his speech, and I couldn't imagine the pain he has been through. He has a disease that causes his fingers to lock into place, and has had several surgeries at Scottish Rite. He said he was so touched when he heard that Scottish Rite does their surgeries for free, and asked his mother how this could happen. She explained to him that generous people make donations to the hospital so they can provide quality, and free healthcare. So he created "Kids Swing", which is an annual golf tournament held to benefit the hospital. Children aged 7 - 18 of all skill levels play in the tournament, and to date he has raised more than $800,000 for the hospital. That's amazing!!!
Ben, and Emily
The children that flowed in a steady stream to the podium filled me with pride for America's youth. I wish that the news channels had been there to cover such a positive story. I think everyone should hear what these kids are doing because there are some amazing stories.
So interject funny story at this point. We were so tired after the banquet that we drove all the way home from Dallas, and FORGOT my car was at work. So Mike said he would take me to work since Emily had the early morning awards at her school, although my make up was in said abandoned car. This means I used my 11 year old kids make up this morning, to try and make myself half way presentable. Yes, this means Bonnie Bell make up, etc. You can stop laughing now.
Emily had to be at her school by 7:50 for the awards presentation. A very nice agent with Prudential, Terry Dunn came to give Emily her award. He made a very nice speech about their company, and Emily. He then presented Emily with her silver medallion, which is gorgeous! Then all of her teachers came up to the podium, and they all presented her with flowers. She got lots of hugs, and everyone had tears again. I even choked up this time, and so did Mike. We were all very proud.
In honor of the day Em's friend Maddie wore her Smile Boxes shirt. Emily wanted her to helpers in the picture with her so she could acknowledge all the hard work they do for Emily's Smile Boxes.
The only downfall of this event was that Jude had about five seizures during the banquet, and what seemed to be a constant seizure at her event his morning. I have put a call into Dr Riela. I told Mike last night I would like to have Jude's medication levels in his blood checked prior to flying to DC next weekend. I would also like to hear what the doctor says about Jude's seizures picking up so much. I am a little worried about flying with Jude in my lap, and I am praying we don't hit any turbulence. A few prayers for our safety on the plane would be wonderful please! Thanks so much.