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Youth Recognition Night

May 01, 2013 - Brandon Twp.- Tessa Kremer was born with Moebius Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that affects cranial nerves and can cause other physical problems.

The disorder has created challenges for the 13-year-old, but it has also created a greater sense of empathy for others. As a middle school student, in an environment where children are often bullied for weaknesses or being different, Tessa has shown great strength of character by reaching out in kindness to help a fellow student with special needs of her own.

"Tessa is a child that has had to have a lot of help throughout her life because she has a disability," said Karen Cosgrove, a Brandon Schools occupational therapist who nominated Tessa for a youth recognition award. "She's only 13 and she is already giving back, already reaching out to not only become friends with a student disabled in a different way, but she is so kind when she does it. She reaches out in such a kind, wonderful manner, it's an asset to her and the way she was raised. Nowadays, especially now in middle school and high school and with bullying, she comes every day with a positive attitude and that is a testament to her, because it has to be hard… Kids complain about things and whine about things that are hard, but she is a hard worker and always keeps a really positive attitude."

Tessa was presented a Gold Star Award, a special honor for her actions at the Brandon Groveland Youth Assistance Youth Recognition Night April 25.

"I was surprised to get (the award)," said Tessa. "I have overcome my challenges and help others… I like helping, I feel happy to do it."

Youth Recognition Night honors school-age residents within the Brandon School District boundaries nominated for awards on the basis of voluntary services and/or exceptional personal efforts. Categories include exceptional service to others; achievement by an individual who has overcome personal challenges and/or set an example for others; heroism/outstanding humanitarian act; and exceptional act by an individual within a club or organization.

This year, 140 children and teens were honored and Tessa was one of five kids who received a Gold Star Award, extra recognition for a job well done.

Fran Hotchkiss, chairperson for the event, said about 300 people attended Youth Recognition Night at the Brandon High School cafeteria.

"It was outstanding," she said. "This year, there were many people who nominated the kids on hand to present the awards. It was so great to see the high rate of wonderful young people in our community that volunteer."

Youth recognition nominees have included students who have helped their fellow classmates, participated in the Peers Making Peace mediation program, organized fundraisers to help various charities, donated their hair to cancer patients through Locks of Love, helped out during library programs, assisted senior citizens with yard clean-up and minor home repairs in the Teens and Seniors Rocking and Raking, gone on mission trips to other states or within Michigan, and various other volunteer activities.

Besides Tessa, four other nominees received Gold Star Awards, including Sophia Gaves, 18, who volunteered for a St. Anne Church mission trip, served at various church events, and volunteered for events including Special Olympics, Rocking and Raking, Children's Village Christmas party, Relay for Life, and the Angel's Place Prom for special needs adults; Hailee Milmine, 7, who assisted Kids Kloset in Clarkston with collecting donations for children in need and helping stuff Christmas stockings to be given to these children; Lane Reed, a Brandon Fletcher Intermediate School sixth grader, who volunteers to help in a special needs class, in particular helping a non-verbal student; and Noah Cox, a 12-year-old who volunteers at the Old Mill Historical Museum in Ortonville, working every Saturday afternoon when the Mill is open as a guide and doing cleaning of the exhibits and other tasks.

"I started working there because I love history and it's a historical society, so I wanted to give time to help them out," said Noah. "It's an old building and it needs a lot of help… I get a sense of satisfaction from giving back."

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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