WHEELERSBURG — Luke Sarver of Wheelersburg was among the seven Ohio Connections Academy (OCA) students to receive a Prudential Spirit of Community Award in recognition of their volunteer service to the community.
The OCA stated, “Luke, a sixthgrader at the online public charter school, volunteers his time for a number of causes in his community. However, he is most passionate about serving the Ohio River Valley T1D, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of families affected by Type 1 Diabetes and helping to raise awareness for the disease throughout the region.”
Sarver received a second letter from The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards that stated, “You have been selected as Ohio’s top Middle-Level Youth Volunteer in the 2021 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. Our judges were so impressed with your outstanding volunteer work that they chose you from among all the other Ohio nominees.” Luke was to top Middle School winner in the state of Ohio.” The letter continued with thanks for his compassionate dedication to improving the lives of others. “The kind of vision and commitment you demonstrated is extremely important to the future of neighborhoods, our cities and our nation. You are an inspiring example to all of us.”
In his application letter, Luke talked about how until 2016, there was no group for Type I Diabetes until his mother, Malissa, started the Ohio River Valley T1D. Now, the group has 200 members. He also said that he likes to work, unlike other children his age.
“I was really happy to find out I was nominated by my school, Ohio Connections Academy, for state level judging. I didn’t think I would win for the state of Ohio since only one middle schooler wins,” Sarver said. “When I found out I had been selected as Ohio’s top Middle Level Youth Volunteer, I was completely shocked and so excited! I’m really happy to represent Wheelersburg and Ohio Connections Academy in such a positive way-it’s an honor. It shows you can be from a small town and still make a difference.”
Sarver continued on why his passion is Type 1 Diabetes, “This is really important to me because not very many people know about Type 1 Diabetes. I want to spread the word about Type 1 Diabetes, so more people know about it. If Type 1 Diabetes is not diagnosed in time, it can be fatal. That’s why I think it’s so important. He also talked about how his little brother Ian and that after he was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age one and had to get shots all the time, is how he knew he wanted to help. He says Ian knows nothing different from the family volunteering and thinks it’s fun.
The type of things Sarver volunteers for are with Ohio River Valley T1D day camp, Ride for a Cure event, helps set up World Diabetes Day meeting and regular meetings. He welcomes children, he says, so that they feel more comfortable if they’re new. He helps fundraise for the JDRF Type One to Type None walk, works the Noble Farms T1D Family Fun Day and JDRF summit. And if that’s not enough, he volunteers in his community like Plant Portsmouth, Feed My Starving Children, Healthy Bucks at the farmers market and clean litter in Shawnee Forest.
When asked if he was still volunteering, he said, “Things are different now with the pandemic, but I am working on now a few projects through “Strength Through Service Campaigns” that I can do from home, like a no-sew mask challenge to donate to homeless shelters, 5 can recycle, tackle hunger, and ways to volunteer by reaching out to older adults during COVID to decrease isolation.”
Sarver’s parents Malissa and Steve, added, “We are really proud and hope he continues this love of community all his life! I often think of the Margaret Mead quote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” As parents, I think we all want for our children to be those thoughtful, committed citizens. We were so happy when we found out Luke had been nominated by his school for state level judging. We explained to him that was such a great achievement and that only one middle schooler would win out of the entire state of Ohio and that just getting as far as he did was such an honor.”
Sarver said that his school had a virtual ceremony and he got to make a slide show and present their volunteer project and how it was neat to see what others had done. “I like going online to school at Ohio Connections Academy because I get to have a more flexible schedule, I can take tennis lessons earlier in the day. I’m in Gifted and Talented classes, so I like that my classes are a challenge. I’m going to be in the Chess Club, and I’m in National Junior Honor Society. OCA had a really cool optional NASA online event I attended this week too!”
One middle schooler and one high schooler wins for each state and for D.C. April 30-May 2, 2021. Sarver will participate in a virtual celebration with the other 101 State Honorees. He will then receive a $2,500 scholarship. He had enough volunteer hours to qualify him for the president’s Volunteer Service Award. He will get a certificate and a letter from the president by summer 2021, where normally he would get to go to D. C. for in-person ceremonies.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740)353-3101 ext. 1928
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