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. 2013-2014 Award Application
Congratulations to our 2012-2013 Christopher Reeve Award Recipient Allyson Ahlstrom from Santa Ana, CA!
The Heart of America Foundation® recognizes Allyson Ahlstrom from Santa Ana, CA as the 2012-2013 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, Allyson will receive a $1,000 college scholarship sponsored by Merriam-Webster, Inc.
Allyson founded Threads for Teens in January 2010 after reading the book Generation Change, by Zach Hunter, which details different service projects teenagers have done across the country. Just 14 years old at the time, Allyson was inspired by the book to start her own service project in her community. Threads for Teens benefits under-privileged girls ages 13 through 18, with the goal of giving them hope, and building self-esteem and confidence by providing them with new, fashionable clothing.
In her first week Allyson sent over 300 letters and emails to clothing manufacturers asking for donations. She was happily surprised at the enthusiastic response. She secured clothing donations and a donated storefront, setting up a small boutique. In August 2010, the boutique opened, serving 13 teenage girls. It received 501(c)3 status in September 2011.
Threads for Teens operates like any other store, except that all of the clothing is provided free of charge. Allyson works with local social workers to locate teens, generally in foster care or group homes, who might benefit from the project and then Allyson invites them to the boutique. Once they arrive, they receive a personalized shopping experience and are invited to select two full outfits apiece, as well as various accessories, jackets, a pair of shoes, and make-up. In addition to meeting day-to-day clothing needs, Threads for Teens also has given out 200 backpacks full of school supplies, and over 100 prom dresses.
Allyson is in the process of planning Threads for Teens On Tour for the summer of 2013. The tour will kick off days after she graduates from high school, and she plans to visit all 48 continental United States and Washington, D.C. She has secured a tractor trailer and plans to convert it into a mobile store with dressing rooms, with the goal of outfitting 1,000 girls during the tour.
In addition to her work with Threads for Teens, Allyson has been class president for two years and is a varsity member of the track team. Since age six, she has volunteered to support hurricane relief victims, helped to support a local group home, and has volunteered at her church.
Learn how to nominate a hero for The Christopher Reeve Award.
Download the 2013-2014 Award Application.
Read about our amazing 2012-2013 Finalists!
See who our past Christopher Reeve Award Recipients were.
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