The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program that honors young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism, has selected its top two Illinois youth volunteers of 2016, including Jungin Angie Lee, 16, of Naperville, who co-founded a nonprofit organization that generated nearly $200,000 over the past nine years with the help of annual fundraising campaigns to help find a cure for her rare neuromuscular disease, spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).
Angie will receive a $1,000 prize, engraved silver medallions, and an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C., in early May.
“We are pleased to honor these students not only for their exemplary acts of service, but for the powerful example they’ve set for their peers,” JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, said in a press release. “Congratulations to each of the 2016 honorees.”
Angie was diagnosed at age 15 months and, in second grade, she became friends with a girl who, after finding out why Angie would never be able to walk, took it upon herself to help. Together, they started a non-profit called “Angie’s Hope” to raise money for SMA research. Last year, the foundation raised nearly $40,000 for the national organization Cure SMA.
Angie believes they can prove “how huge a difference individuals can make when they combine efforts,” and added that these initiatives have become “a way for our small community to unite to make a change.”
Top honors also went to Nicolas Ramkumar, 14, of Champaign, who raised nearly $10,000 to buy laptop computers for his school. Awards were also distributed to other dedicated young volunteers in Inverness, Loves Park, Wheaton, Woodridge, Naperville, Harrisburg, Deerfield, and Grayslake.
“Prudential commends each of these young volunteers for using their creativity and compassion to bring positive change to their communities,” said John Strangfeld, chairman and CEO of Prudential. “We hope their stories inspire others to consider how they can make a difference, too.”
New knowledge in stem cell research may help scientists advance cell therapies for motor neuron diseases such as spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Human neurons are as diverse as other cell types. Understanding how neurons diversify from stem cells would allow for more precise models of disease and advance drug discovery while leading the way to cell-based neural repair strategies. In a comprehensive overview, University College London researcher Rickie Patani explains how stem cells develop into regions and subtype-specific neurons, and how that knowledge may help researchers advance cell therapies for motor neuron diseases such as spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).