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2017 Young Heroes »»»

Announcing our 2017 Louisiana Young Heroes

photoAlyssa Carson

Alyssa Carson, of Baton Rouge, a 10th grader at Baton Rouge International School, has wanted to travel to Mars since she was three years old. She is working diligently to make that dream a reality. Alyssa is an Astronaut in Training and is the first person to attend all three NASA Space Camps in the U.S., Canada, and Turkey. In 2016, she became the youngest person to be accepted and graduate from the Advanced PoSSUM Academy, a hands-on and immersive program for students interested in upper atmospheric research and manned spaceflight. Alyssa has given a TED Talk, as well as multiple talks about her mission all over the world. Her plan is to study science at the University of Cambridge in the U.K., get her Masters in space engineering at the International Space University in France, and then attend MIT to study astrobiology.

photoAlyssa Dismuke

Alyssa Dismuke of Bastrop, a 7th grader at St. Frederick Junior High School in Monroe, organized a nursing home ministry called Alyssa Cares. She makes countless crafts to distribute to residents of a local nursing facility around holidays. Her mother said this desire to visit with the residents and make gifts for them started after Alyssa’s first visit to the nursing home when she was four. Alyssa participates in a number of extracurricular activities, such as oration and essay competitions, piano, singing, and basketball. The 13-year-old competes in shot put and ranked third in the country in the 2014 Junior Olympics.

photoKacie Francois

Kacie Francois of Lafayette, an 8th grader at Paul Breaux Middle School, is a cancer survivor, not once but twice. She was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of three. After several years of treatment at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, she was in remission until the age of nine when the disease came back with a vengeance. The chemotherapy caused side effects including neuropathy and gall bladder problems. Kacie is now an advocate for childhood cancer. She has raised thousands of dollars for St. Jude while maintaining a 4.0 grade point average. Kacie was chosen as the Lafayette, LA, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s “2016 Girl of the Year.”

photoMathew Guzzardo

Matthew Guzzardo, of Denham Springs, a 12th grader at Denham Springs High School, became a hero to many after the August 2016 that devastated a large portion of his hometown of Denham Springs. When the water began rapidly rising in his subdivision, Mathew and another student went house to house at 4 a.m. to wake up their unsuspecting neighbors. The boys noticed a neighbor’s car stuck in the rising water. Mathew, realizing that the passenger was paralyzed and could not escape, jumped into the water and rescued the woman, getting her to safety in a boat. Two days later, Mathew risked his own safety to rescue a man trapped on top of his car in the flood waters. Mathew hopes to attend the United States Service Academy.

photoReagan Hill

Reagan Hill, of Mandeville, a 12th grader at St. Paul’s School in Covington, survived a horrible diving accident when he was 14 that left him paralyzed initially. Because of his amazing attitude, strength, and perseverance, he was able to walk out of the hospital just six weeks later. Reagan’s accident led him to found “Reagan’s Peanut Butter Project” that has raised over $12,000 and has assisted more than 900 individuals who have suffered injuries or are dealing with cancer in a three-state region. Reagan’s Peanut Butter Project Facebook page posts encouraging messages and words of hope. Reagan has been involved in volunteer work for a number of years, helping the Covington Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity, Children’s Advocacy Center, and other organizations. Reagan is also an honor student with a 4.02 grade point average.

photoAddison Patton

Addison Patton, of Choudrant, a 12th grader at Choudrant High School, was born twelve weeks premature. Due to a brain bleed in the first few weeks of her life, she was diagnosed with Spastic Cerebral Palsy. Thanks to rigorous physical and occupational therapy, Addison is able to function like most “normal” teenagers. The muscles in her eyes were affected, and she has undergone eight surgeries to correct the problems. Addison is very involved in community activities. One of her passions is Wheelin’ in the Hills that helps provide access to the outdoors for local children and adults who are handicapped. Addison was chosen to be a DARE role model, a guest speaker at a Veteran’s Day program, and Choudrant High School’s Student of the Year.

photoJeremaih Robinson
Jeremain Robinson

Jeremaih and Jeremain Robison, of Baton Rouge, twins in the 10th grade at McKinley High School, are not only identical in looks, but also in their determination to help others. The 16-year-olds had a rough start. Their father died in theirs arms when they were twelve. They sought out tutoring at the Baton Rouge Youth Coalition in order to keep up with their studies. When they are not at BRYC, they are performing community service at numerous sites around Baton Rouge. Following last summer’s flooding, Jeremain and Jeremaih worked with First United Methodist Church’s Revive 225 home repair ministry, working long, hard days on flooded homes. They are also active volunteers with the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, an afterschool tutoring program, and Front Yard Bikes, which teaches participants of all ages how to fix and maintain bikes. 

photoDaniel Wesley

Daniel Wesley of Baton Rouge, a 12th grader at Central High School, was an Emergency Medical Technician trainee whose life was dramatically changed on a Sunday in November of 2016. He was driving on Essen Lane when he saw a woman being tossed out of a car onto the road. The son of a retired EMT supervisor, Daniel grabbed his father’s medical bag and immediately went to administer first aid to the woman who had also been shot. The gunman returned to the scene, running over Daniel and two others who had stopped to assist. Although injured, Daniel returned to the victim and continued to try to stop her bleeding. The gunman returned again and told Daniel that if he helped the woman, he would die, too. He then fired a shot that struck Daniel. Undeterred, Daniel continued to help the woman until he was shot again. The assailant returned to his vehicle and ran over Daniel again. Unfortunately, the woman died. Daniel was left with a shattered arm, broken thigh bone, and a pair of gunshot wounds. He continues a rigorous schedule of physical therapy, and is pushing to regain his strength, endurance, and range of motion so that he can run with his school track team this spring.


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