1. ALEJANDRO AGELVIS, seventh grade, & 2. JESUS DIAZ-LOPEZ, seventh grade, Hialeah Gardens Middle:
Spring Break is supposed to be a time for students to disconnect, have fun, and relax. However, on the first Monday of break, Alejandro received a message from a distraught young lady stating “I want to kill myself” with a video attached. Alejandro tried to reach out to her several times but there was no response. Concern and disbelief overcame Alejandro. Although it was 1:00 a.m., he spoke with his mother and they called the Hialeah Police Department. They took the report but couldn’t do anything because they didn’t have an address for the student. Alejandro even went to the police station to again report what had happened and the fact that this young lady had not responded to his messages. Again, the police could not do anything without an address. Once back home, Alejandro reached out to his friend Jesus knowing his mom was a teacher at their school. Without any hesitation, Jesus alerted his mother. Alejandro explained everything that had transpired to the teacher who then contacted the Trust Counselor for assistance. After many calls and endless conversations, the case ended up in the hands of Davie Police as the student was now on a camping trip with a church. Davie Police responded and made sure this young lady was safe. Alejandro and Jesus are seventh graders that have both received Principals Honor Roll in 6th and 7th grades. Both are members of the National Junior Honor Society and are active in extracurricular activities. Alejandro is an avid swimmer and on the school’s swim team for the past two years. Jesus is a passionate snare drummer on the school’s drum line for the past two years. For both of the boys’ persistence in getting help, and not stopping until the young lady’s safety was assured, Alejandro and Jesus are being recognized for doing the right thing.
3. NICHOLE BATISTA, fifth grade, Southside Elementary, Rapids Water Park Trip Winner:
It is very important for students to understand the need to report to adults at school when the lives of other students might be in danger. Recently, Nichole left a note for the counselor requesting to speak with her. In the note Nichole, who is a well-behaved gifted student with exceptional positive character traits, stated that one of her gifted classmates told her she wanted to commit suicide. The counselor called the student’s mother, alerted her about the situation, and advised her to seek psychological support for her daughter which the mother agreed to do. Incidents like this demonstrate that we never know if students that are talking about taking their lives are just looking for attention or if it is a real possibility. When this occurs, it is a cry for help that shouldn’t be ignored. Nichole did the right thing and her decision to intervene saved a life. More students like Nichole are needed with a strong and clear understanding of the importance of reporting situations like these. For helping potentially save a life, Nichole deserves to be recognized by the Do The Right Thing Program.
4. VALERY CASAMAYOR, sixth grade, Florida Christian School:
Valery is a young lady who is respectful, pensive, and mature beyond her years. This is due to the challenging circumstances she has faced in her young life. Three years ago, her younger sibling Nicole, began complaining of pain in her bones. A doctor’s visit revealed that Nicole had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Valery’s life went from one of bliss to that of terror, afraid that her one sibling would die of cancer. Afternoons were filled with doctor’s appointment for radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Valery’s family is Peruvian and her extended family lives in Peru. Therefore, they did not have a family network available to support them. The outcome of Nicole’s treatment revealed that her cancer was in remission but sadly the leukemia returned after two years. A relapse called for more aggressive treatment, and a search began for a donor who would be a match for a bone marrow transplant. The ideal is a very close match, but this is rarely seen. The miracle the family had prayed for materialized when Valery turned out to be a 100 percent match. The procedure for the transplant is extremely painful for the donor; the bone marrow is extracted from the front hip bone since this is the area where the body produces extra cells. After the extraction, Valery was unable to stand for several days due to the pain, and was treated with morphine. Finally, after two months in the hospital, Nicole was released. Valery had to stay with friends while Nicole recovered. This period was extremely difficult for Valery emotionally, and she became very anxious. Valery also donated her long, beautiful hair as a sign of love and support for her sister. Additionally, she has participated in walks and runs for cancer research. As of today, thanks to Valery’s bone marrow donation, Nicole has remained cancer free. Valery’s willing sacrifice, and love and dedication to her sister and family, make Valery a very worthy candidate for Do The Right Thing.
5. MIYA MCCLELLAND, eigth grade, Norman S. Edelcup/Sunny Isles Beach K-8:
There has been a serious issue with students vaping at her school. Vaping is a new and dangerous trend that can have serous health implications in the future. Miya courageously contacted the administration to let them know who was supplying students with all these e-cigarettes. Because of Miya’s act, the culprits where identified and the problem with vaping at the school has been reduced to almost none. Furthermore, more education and awareness was brought to this issue due to Miya and her understanding of how risky this behavior is. The school is very grateful to Miya, her deep perception of a potential long-term problem and the information she brought to the school. Her concern was one of wanting what was best for her peers and understanding the negative impact that vaping can cause. She is truly mature beyond her years.
6. ADRIAN RUIZ, sixth grade, Brucie Ball Educational Center:
Adrian was diagnosed with leukemia and following treatment, achieved remission. Unfortunately Adrian had a relapse in July of last year. Despite his situation, he always has a wonderful disposition and is eager to take classes, even when he is not feeling well. One day after an early morning hospital visit, Adrian had to take the FSA test. Adrian was very nauseous and had to go to the restroom several times to vomit. His teacher asked him if he wanted to do it another day but Adrian insisted on continuing and finished the test. Adrian is a very brave and wonderful boy. For his perseverance despite his circumstance, Adrian deserves the Do The Right Thing award.
7. STEPHANIE TOBAR, tenth grade, Brucie Ball Educational Center (posthumously):
Stephanie was a mature young lady of many talents with a remarkable drive and extraordinary determination. In November, after years in remission for Chronic Myeloid Leukemia, she underwent a bone marrow transplant for a reoccurrence of this rare cancer typically found in adults. Stephanie continued to display outstanding efforts to maintain her rigorous academic schedule while enduring the ravages of chemotherapy and the painful side effects of life-threatening complications from her transplant. Stephanie’s medical treatments frequently caused her to become extremely ill, but she endured the pain and continued fighting while completing her tenth grade studies. She was still managing to earn good grades while suffering a very debilitating recovery. Stephanie could have easily taken the year off from school, as most students generally do when diagnosed with this type of illness, but she was determined to keep up with her studies. While in the hospital, shortly after her transplant and on heavy pain medications, Stephanie even managed to pass the Algebra EOC. While in the bone marrow ward, she also mentored other young children undergoing the same treatments as her, comforting and encouraging them during their treatments. Stephanie continued to amaze as she bravely battled her illness while putting forth every ounce of strength and effort she had left for her academic studies. Unfortunately Stephanie passed away two weeks ago as she was in the process of being selected as a Do The Right Thing Top 10 winner. Therefore, her award is given posthumously so her family share in the memory of her strong will and determination to persevere. Stephanie leaves a true legacy of doing the right thing in the face of extreme adversity.
8. IMAHNI TOWNER, second grade, Colonial Drive Elementary:
Imahni finds the positive in all situations. She did the right thing by coming to the aid of a fallen student. She comforted a crying kindergarten student who was lost and assisted the child back to the classroom. She makes cards for sick students when they are absent, picks flowers for her teachers, and makes dolls and drawings for the elderly in a nursing home. Imahni was born with a severe developmental delay and is borderline autistic. She has had difficulty in her academics resulting in her being two years behind her peers. However, she has turned these negatives into positives this year and has exploded with an enthusiasm that has never been seen before! Her desire to succeed is unbelievable and she cries when she does not reach her goals. This determination has resulted in her first ever Academic Honor Roll. This is a true accomplishment from a child who is behind and in the Exceptional Student Program. Each morning, she waters the school garden. She will do anything to help anyone. It is heartwarming to watch her explain directions or help a peer solve a problem. Her classmates look up to her because she is the cheerleader for our classroom and always encourages others by telling them “you can do it!” She shares all that she has with her classmates and donates her clothes and toys to the needy. What makes Imahni unique is her overwhelming heart that puts others before herself. She stops other’s arguments by telling them to do the right thing as she reasons with them. She will let others in front of her in line if she sees they are thirstier. When Imahni sees that someone is sad, she prays for them. At home, she is “mommy’s little helper” as she does whatever she can to make life easier for her mom and six siblings. Imahni cooks, bathes and walks her baby brother, and puts him to sleep. Imahni also loves church and sings in her choir. Whenever she notices a person in need walking the streets, she provides food or water to them. Imahni’s goal in life is to help others achieve happiness. Her sheer determination has made a profound difference in her classmates and in anyone she meets. Being recognized as a “Do The Right Thing Winner” is a great accomplishment for Imahni that will only lead to more positive outcomes ahead.
9. PATRICIA VEGA, twelfth grade, Hialeah Gardens High, Washington, D.C. Trip Winner:
Entering senior year should be a celebration. Unfortunately this was not the case for Patricia. After her mother battled cancer for over three years, the fight came to an end. Her mother’s death hit Patricia hard. While going through the toughest years of her life, the adolescent years, Patricia had to add to that the burden of seeing her mother deteriorate right before her eyes. The natural motherly roles had switched and as a 17 year old girl, Patricia had to take care of her 52 year old mother, bathing and feeding her, taking her to the bathroom, and many other daily needs. Her responsibilities were above what any high school student could emotionally handle, yet Patricia faced this adversity with love and compassion. Her actions speak volumes about her maturity and dedication. Moreover, most impressive has been her ability to maintain a 4.7 GPA in the depth of this great personal crisis. Currently, Patricia is in the top 6 percent of her senior class of 750 students. She will be attending Florida International University this fall with a goal to study business. Her strength, character, and discipline are what inspire Patricia to do the right thing.
10. CHEYENNE VISCONTI, sixth grade, Everglades K-8:
Cheyenne came home from school to find her grandmother lying on the floor unconscious and bleeding. She quickly assessed the situation, and ran outside with her phone to call 911. As soon as Cheyenne was sure that help was en route, she contacted her father to notify him of the situation. She then proceeded to provide comfort to her grandmother as they waited for help. Once the ambulance and her father arrived, it was determined that her grandmother had fallen down the stairs. Cheyenne’s grandmother was quickly transported to the hospital and received the medical attention that she needed. This 12 year old girl handled a very serious situation with the maturity of an adult and because of this, her grandmother’s life was saved. Cheyenne is being praised and recognized for what she truly is, a hero!