The Heroes of the Heart® Awards Program is a national recognition program that identifies inspirational individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to enrich the lives of others. The Heroes of the Heart® Awards Program is celebrated in schools across the country. The program also includes two scholarships:
The Christopher Reeve Award and The Gee Whiz Kids® Award.
The Christopher Reeve Award
The Heart of America Foundation® Christopher Reeve Award is presented
each year to an extraordinary youth who has demonstrated tremendous courage, compassion and caring
in serving his or her community. Award recipients
receive a $1,000 scholarship for post secondary education. Award Application
Congratulations to our 2011 Christopher Reeve Award Recipient Alison Mansfield from Fort Wayne, IN!
The Heart of America Foundation® recognizes Alison Mansfield, a junior at Homestead High School, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, as the 2011 national recipient of The Christopher Reeve Award. Founded by Mr. Fred Matser, The Christopher Reeve Award is presented each year by The Heart of America Foundation to an extraordinary high school senior or younger who has demonstrated tremendous compassion and caring in serving his or her community.
As the recipient of the award, Alison Mansfield will receive a $1,000 college scholarship sponsored by Merriam-Webster, Inc., as well as a gift package of books from Merriam-Webster for her home library.
"Merriam-Webster is pleased to partner with The Heart of America Foundation again this year as a sponsor of their annual Christopher Reeve Award," says President and Publisher John M. Morse. "In doing so, Merriam-Webster is continuing its long-standing commitment to support students of all ages, and is again pleased to recognize and honor the dedication of students serving their communities, particularly with an award supporting continued education."
Alison founded Operation U.S. Troop Support, Inc., which supports members of the U.S. military, after completing a 5th grade writing project. Alison's class was instructed to write about someone who exhibited civic virtue, and she decided to select a person who did the right thing when nobody was watching. In church she had heard about a soldier, Sgt. Statzer, who received serious injuries in an Iraqi convoy explosion, requiring him to undergo extensive face and skull reconstruction. At the time he was being treated at Walter Reed Medical Center. Alison arranged a phone interview with Sgt. Statzer and his father. His passion for serving his country, as well as his assertion that he would do it all again if needed, inspired Alison.
Later that year, she had the opportunity to fly to Washington, D.C. and meet Sgt. Statzer at Walter Reed for Veteran's Day. Collaborating with the airline she was traveling on, she collected letters of support and thanks from her fellow passengers and hand delivered them to the soldiers at Walter Reed. She began collecting other items later that year.
In 2007 she kicked off Operation Socks For Our Troops, after a local Post Office clerk told her about a relative serving in Afghanistan that requested warm socks. Alison's initial goal was to gather between 500 and 1,000 pairs of wool socks, but that goal was shattered after the AP picked up a story written about her project in a local paper. As of January 2012, she had collected and shipped over 12,000 pairs of socks to soldiers serving in the coldest parts of Iraq and Afghanistan.
In 2009, collaborating with the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, as well as local artists, she created a coloring book for soldiers to share with Afghan children. 1,000 copies of the book were distributed overseas, along with small toys and treats for the children.
Since that initial visit with Sgt. Statzer in 2005, Alison has collected and shipped over 72,400 items to troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, including 12,000 pairs of wool socks, 500 boxes of Girl Scout cookies, 50,500 personal hygiene items, 5,000 letters and cards, and small toys for Afghan and Iraqi children. Goods donated, as well as in-kind and cash donations, are valued at an estimated $250,000-$265,000. To learn more about Operation U.S. Troop Support, please visit her website at www.operationustroopsupport.org.
Learn how to nominate a hero for The Christopher Reeve Award. | Award Application
Learn About Our 2011 Finalists:
Carah Austin - Whiteland, IN
James "Garrett" Grim- Roanoke, TX
Lacy Keith - Middletown OH
Katherine Stone - Fort Walton Beach, FL
Past Christopher Reeve Award Recipients.
Heroes of the Heart® Gee Whiz Kids® Award
The Gee Whiz Kids® Award is a category of the Heroes of the Heart® Award program designed to honor exemplary children age 12 and under, who represent the best of their schools and communities, the true heart of America.
Nominate a child for The Gee Whiz Kids® Award.
Congratulations to our 2012 Gee Whiz Kids® Award Recipients
1st Place - Conner from Rochester, NY
2nd Place - N'Jhari from Tampa, FL
3rd Place - Bailey ("Maddie") Ford from Tompkinsville, KY
Share their stories on Facebook.
Behind the Award
Marilyn Perlyn, author of the children's book
The Biggest and Brightest Light,
provides a scholarship for each Gee Whiz Kids® Award recipient.
Illustrated by Marilyn Perlyn’s daughter, Amanda, this heartwarming true story gives children a real understanding of the feelings that come from giving. A portion of the proceeds from this book are donated to The Heart of America Foundation®. Order
Marilyn Perlyn is also the creator of The OCHO Project (Opportunities for Children to Help Others), a character building and literary based service-learning program “dedicated to exposing children to the joys of reading while teaching them that, through reading, they can help others less fortunate than themselves.” Learn more about The OCHO Project and how you can get involved.
Past Gee Whiz Kids Award Recipients