Girls World Expo Van Cott Girls of Merit

By Kelly McCarthy

October 25, 2013 Updated Sep 18, 2014 at 9:11 AM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton)  As part of this Sunday's Girls World Expo, 10 girls in our community are being recognized at the 2013 Van Cott Girls of Merit.  Parents, teachers, and mentors chose girls between the ages of 11 and 18 to be recognized as outstanding members of the community.

Three of the Girls of Merit award winners tell us more about their volunteering and community involvement.    

Living with a brain condition hasn't slowed down 12-year-old Kendall Brzozowy.

"The way I describe it, my brain's too big for my head," Brzozowy said.

Brzozowy created the Chiari and Syringomyelia Foundation (CSF) chapter for Broome County. Brzozowy was a guest on Action News' Around the Tiers segment in June to promote her fundraising walk "Unite@Night."

"Brought way more awareness, like now people know about it," Brzozowy said, "And they know a little bit of what it is so when they hear the name they won't just think, what is this?"

"Unite@Night" has raised more than $7,000 in the past two years. Brzozowy said creating a fundraiser is something anyone her age can do.

"Always make time to help others because it makes other people feel good," Brzozowy said, "And it makes you feel good about helping other people."

Helping others is what 17-year-old Crystal Fisher has been doing for years. As a young girl Fisher's babysitter told her about her battle with Scleroderma. 

"She had talked about it, how it affected her life and her health mostly," Fisher said, "And I just kind of felt really bad."

Fisher started raising money for the "Stepping out to Cure Scleroderma Walk" at the age of 7. Her first fundraiser raked in more than a $100, and her most recent fundraiser at the age of 17 raised more than $1,000.

"People really wanted to help and they actually cared," Fisher said.

Fisher said getting to know people affected by the disease keeps her pushing for more donations year after year.

"The people themselves," Fisher said, "Most of the people involved have the disease so it really makes you want to help them when you see how it affects their life."

One of New York's biggest advocates against tobacco advertising is 12-year-old Isabella Sapio. She's a youth leader in a volunteer groups called  'Reality Check.'

"It tries to stop big tobacco companies targeting to teens," Sapio said, "And at an early age I did not like cigarettes at all. My babysitter used to smoke and I would always try to hide her cigarettes or smash them up so she wouldn't have them."

Her involvement carries over to Relay for Life where she raised $750 for the American Cancer Society.

"I love it because it makes me feel good about myself and knowing that I helped somebody else," Sapio said.

Sapio said she'll always make the time in her busy schedule to be a volunteer.

"You have plenty of time to do your other stuff," Sapio said, "But it's just that one time you'll get to help out somebody else's life."

Words of advice from some of the youngest and most accomplished community volunteers.

The Girls of Merit Awards will be given to all 10 girls this Sunday at the Girls World Expo. Girl's World is from 11 am - 2 pm at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Binghamton.


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