A Helias Catholic High School student has been recognized by the National Catholic Educational Association for her work with the charity she started.
Helias student Olivia Hennon received the 2019 Youth Virtues, Valor and Vision Award from the NCEA on Jan. 31 during the school’s Mass for Catholic Schools Week, in recognition of her work with Little Box of Sunshine.
Hennon founded Little Box of Sunshine in 2016 in honor of her friend, Margaret Romph, who in 2009 suffered spinal cord injuries in a car accident that left her paralyzed from the neck down.
When Hennon visited Romph while she was at University of Missouri’s Women’s and Children’s Hospital for more than two months in 2016, “I saw how boring and sad some of the hospital rooms were and how long some of the kids had to stay there,” Hennon said last year.
“I started Little Box of Sunshine to brighten the days of kids in hospitals,” she said in a news release this week from Helias.
Little Box of Sunshine has delivered more than 1,200 boxes to children in hospitals in 11 states — boxes that include items such as a stuffed animal, crayons, a coloring book, pillow case, play dough and a handmade card.
“All the wonderful people in my life and my Catholic education have taught me the importance of shining Christ’s light on others and their examples inspired me to get started,” Hennon added.
The Youth Virtues, Valor and Vision Award from the NCEA “goes to students who have shown selfless service, determination, innovation and ideals that are changing the world — it recognizes ordinary students doing extraordinary things,” according to Helias’ news release.
Hennon, who was featured along with Little Box of Sunshine in the March/April 2018 HER Magazine, was chosen from more than 1.8 million Catholic school students from across the United States and “is one of just 10 receiving a similar award,” the release noted.
“Ms. Hennon has done remarkable things for someone her age, or any age, through the creation and work of her not- for-profit,” Helias president the Rev. Stephen Jones said. “But she also has an extraordinary heart of kindness, spirit of hope and willingness to work hard to help others, which make her the type of person we should all aspire to be.”
As breast cancer survivor Beverly Vote finished her keynote speech at the 2019 Strut Your Style Fashion Show and Luncheon, she surprised the event’s founder and lead organizer, Sherrie Brant.
Vote announced to the 350 guests at the benefit for Community Breast Care Project that Brant won the 2018 Community Breast Cancer Leader of the Year Award, sponsored by the nationally distributed Breast Cancer Wellness Magazine in which Vote serves as publisher.
With breast cancer inflicting many women very close to her, Brant want- ed to create a way to raise money for those battling the disease in her community. Strut Your Style Fashion Show and Luncheon was born and has raised more than $20,000 annually for Community Breast Care Project, which serves men and women diagnosed with breast cancer in Cole, Callaway, Osage, Miller, Morgan, Moniteau and Camden counties.
The show not only highlights the latest in winter fashion, the mod- els are all breast cancer survivors and escorted by local doctors and surgeons who help assist these men and women. This year, Brant was able to donate $25,000 to Community Breast Care Project through the event’s silent auction and ticket sales.
“I’ll be honest; I nominated Sherrie. She is a lover of people and lover of her community. Her zest for life is contagious. The other part I love about her and about her event is Strut Your Style builds these women’s confidence,” said Vote, who is also a breast cancer survivor. “When we are first diagnosed with cancer, that is the first thing that leaves. When a woman gets in touch with who they are, they let who they are come out and that is when they really start taking control of their life. Sherrie gives these women that confidence.”
In their fourth year, the Breast Cancer Wellness Awards have 12 different categories, with people from across the nation submitting nominations. An unbiased anonymous committee separate from the magazine decides the winners, in which Brant was one and the first to win from Missouri. Other awards include National Breast Cancer Nonprofit of the Year, Community Breast Cancer Nonprofit of the Year, National Breast Cancer Leader of the Year, Oncology Nurse Navigator of the Year, BCW Blogger of the Year, BCW Ambassador of the Year, Breast Cancer Advocate of the Year, Mastectomy Fitter of the Year, Lifetime Achievement Award, BCW Thriving Caregiver of the Year and BCW Thriver of the Year.
Brant was surprised to find out about this award and her feature in the winter issue of Breast Cancer Wellness Magazine, which is currently available. She was also truly honored.
“It has been a long search for something I could feel wonderful about doing to help people. Once I found it, it snowballed. Watching the women’s faces on the runway is just amazing; that pushes me to keep doing this,” said Brant, whose event was featured in the September/October 2018 issue of HER Magazine. “I’m very touched. It is a recognition from people that matter and count. It tells me I’m on the right road and to keep it up.”
Strut Your Style founder Sherrie Brant, right, receives the 2018 Community Breast Cancer Leader from Breast Cancer Wellness Magazine and was featured in publication’s winter issue. She is pictured with Breast Cancer Wellness Publisher Beverly Vote, who delivered her award in late February at the Jefferson City Country Club.
The 2019 Strut Your Style Fashion Show and Luncheon will be Oct. 28 at Capitol Plaza Hotel. Businesses featuring fashion and accessories include Dillard’s, Samuel’s Tuxedo and American Shoe in Jefferson City, and My Sisters Circus and Bingham Clothing in Columbia. New this year, The Fir Center of St. Louis will also feature furs for invitation only VIP lounge guests. Derlene Hirtz, life coach and founder of You.Empowered Services, will be the keynote speaker.
For updates about this event, visit www.facebook.com/StrutYourStyleFashionShow. For more information about Breast Cancer Wellness Magazine and its annual Thrivers Cruise – the longest running cruise event in the world for breast cancer survivors – visit breastcancerwellness.org.