Operation Homefront today announced the six recipients of the 2015 Military Child of the Year® Award. The national non-profit organization that provides emergency assistance to military families annually gives the award to an outstanding military child from each branch of service – Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard – and for the first time in 2015, the National Guard.
From a pool of nearly 500 nominees, each award recipient was chosen by a committee including active-duty and retired military personnel, spouses of senior military leaders, veteran service organization leadership, teachers, and community members. The six awardees will receive $10,000 each, will receive a laptop computer and other donated gifts, and will be flown with a parent or guardian to Washington, D.C., for a special recognition gala on April 16, 2015. The awards will be presented by senior leaders of each branch of service.
"We're thrilled to honor these six outstanding young patriots with our Military Child of the Year Award," said Tim Farrell, Chief Operating Officer for Operation Homefront. "These awardees represent the strength of our military families, who sacrifice so much in service to our country."
Following are the 2015 Military Child of the Year® Award recipients. Read more details about them here.
Cavan McIntyre-Brewer, 13
Cavan McIntyre-Brewer is in the seventh grade at the Cove School in Duncannon, Penn. He is the founder of Socks for Vets, which collects socks and other donated items for wounded warriors. In addition to his Socks for Vets organization, he helps his sister, herself a pediatric heart patient, with her program, Heart Hugs, collecting pillows for pediatric heart patients. He is the oldest child of Michelle McIntyre-Brewer and U.S. Army Capt. Steven Brewer. Michelle works as a medical and military advocate and educator, and Capt. Brewer is a medical detachment commander at Kirk U.S. Army Health Clinic.
Christopher-Raul Rodriguez, 17
Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Christopher Rodriguez is a senior at Lejeune High School in North Carolina. He is the team captain for the Lejeune High School Varsity Baseball and Soccer teams, and Junior Varsity Basketball Team. In addition to excelling on these teams, he is an assistant coach for students 8-12 years old in Lejeune Youth baseball, soccer, and basketball. Overcoming his early experience with domestic violence and homelessness, Christopher has become a leader in the community volunteering with a number of organizations to help kids with special needs. Christopher is the oldest child of Griscelda and U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Jermaine Smith. He has one sister, Jazzlyn-Luz (14) and one brother Kilyn-Miguel (12). Griscelda is an on-base family childcare provider, and Jermaine is a gunnery sergeant at Camp Lejeune.
Emily Kliewer, 17
Emily Kliewer is a senior at Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando, Fla. and on track to graduate as the valedictorian of her class. In addition to academic excellence, Emily is captain of her Swimming and Diving Team and four-time school record holder. She uses her talents to volunteer with the Special Olympics as a swimming instructor and volunteer coach. Emily’s experience with the Special Olympics motivated her to get involved with other organizations that assist special needs kids. She is the youngest daughter of Cynthia and Kyle Kliewer. Her older sisters are Kaitlyn (23) currently earning her PhD in Civic Engineering at Princeton and Nicole (21) who will graduate Magna Cum Laude from Florida State University. Her father is a retired lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy.
Sarah Hesterman, 16
Sarah Hesterman is a junior at the American School of Doha. Sarah is the founder and president of Girl Up Qatar, a club that promotes the rights of women and girls in the Middle East and around the world. Girl Up Qatar is part of the United Nations foundation innovation campaign, Girl Up, to empower girls. Sarah is the only child of Dr. Jennifer and U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. John Hesterman. Her father is currently the Commander of U.S. Air Forces Central Command (AFCENT), stationed in Qatar. He has been serving for 32 years. Her mother is a retired Air Force colonel with 21 years of service and is currently a professor and academic author.
Caleb Parsons, 18
Caleb Parsons is a senior at King’s Fork High School in Suffolk, Va. He is an Eagle Scout and Senior Patrol Leader in Boy Scouts of America. He led his troop on a weekend camping trip where they revamped a dilapidated trail in the park, leveling the trail and installing fencing. Caleb is also an active leader in the Air Force JROTC, having received the highest rank achievable in the program. He juggles these leadership roles while caring for his younger siblings with help from his grandparents and a few family friends while both of his parents are deployed. He is the oldest son of U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Story and U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Ward Parsons. He has two younger brothers Isaac (16), Nathan (14), and younger sister Kyleah (9).
Zachary Parsons, 16
Zachary Parsons is a sophomore at Sacred Heart High School in Warrensburg, Mo. Zachary is an active member of his local and state level 4-H organization. He is currently President of the Johnson County Council, West Central Representative for Missouri State Council, and the National 4-H Congress delegate from Missouri. He also serves to help support children of deployed military on the Missouri National Guard Teen Advisory Council, advocating for support with nonprofits, legislature, and the public. He is the youngest son of Debbie and Missouri National Guard Staff Sgt. Jason Parsons. His father is currently at the Wounded Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Leonard Wood. He has four older siblings, Dianne Gower (31), married to Simon Gower; Taylar McDonald (24) married to Anthony McDonald; Shaun Roach (26) and his wife Lindsey; and Matthew (deceased).
The Presenting Sponsor for the Military Child of the Year® Awards Gala is United Technologies. Murphy-Goode Winery is a Bronze Sponsor. Patriot Sponsors are MidAtlanticBroadband, Aflac, and La Quinta Inns & Suites. The Office Depot Foundation is a Benefactor. The Media Sponsor is Military Times.