The word “hero” can bring to mind anyone from law enforcement officers keeping communities safe to emergency responders saving lives to the firefighters working to contain the Funny River Road wildfire.
But the Summer of Heroes program, developed through a partnership between Alaska Communications and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Alaska, looks to recognize the young heroes of Alaska.
“It’s just recognizing a youth in the community (who have) done good,” said Heather Schloeman, executive director of Boys and Girls Clubs of the Kenai Peninsula.
A panel of judges will select five winners from nominated kids this summer to receive a $1,500 scholarship and a trip to the Alaska State Fair in Palmer where they will be recognized for their heroism.
Jennifer Brown, director of marketing and public relations for Boys and Girls Clubs of Alaska, said the Summer of Heroes program has grown with more nominees since its debut four years ago. Brown had sat on the judging panel and said selecting five winners is not an easy process.
“I want to pick them all because they’re all just really good kids that need to be recognized,” Brown said.
Brown said the program has received nominees of all ages from throughout the state.
Chance Haller, a 17 year old from Seldovia, was selected as a hero last summer. Haller has been volunteering in the community as a firefighter since 2011.
“My dad stepped up and became fire chief and kind of dragged me along with him,” Haller said.
In 2012, Haller put in 250 volunteer hours for the fire department. He is studying toward his Firefighter I certificate, but no one in Seldovia is certified to do the training for it.
“Everything (in Seldovia) is volunteer, so we’re not certified to go into houses or any of that stuff,” he said. “We’re certified to hold a hose and put the fire out.”
Haller is also a certified emergency trauma technician. When he’s 18, Haller plans on becoming an emergency medical technician.
Haller will be a high school senior next year and plans to attend Kenai Peninsula College for computer science. While working toward a degree, Haller also wants to continue firefighting. After college, he wants to attend the Alaska State Trooper academy.
Nearly a year after finding out he won, Haller still doesn’t know who nominated him.
“He is kind of an all-around outstanding kid,” said Hannah Blankenship with Alaska Communications.
In 2012, Courtney Stroh of Kenai and Shaylee Rizzo, a Nikiski teen, received Summer of Heroes scholarships for their community work. Stroh founded a team to clean up fish waste during dipnet season in Kenai. Rizzo raised awareness about vehicle and moose accidents by writing a kid’s book and educating elementary students.
Alaskans are asked to nominate youth ages 6-18 who make a difference in their community whether it’s raising money for a cause, volunteering or contributing in other ways. Nominations can be made through July15 online at alaskacommunications.com/summerofheroes or forms can be picked up at Alaska Communications stores or Boys and Girls Clubs.
For every Alaska Communications smartphone purchased before July 15, the company will donate $25 to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Alaska.
Clarion file material was used in this article.
Kaylee Osowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org