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2021 Young Heroes

Jackson Cantrell | 2021 Louisiana Young Hero

Jackson Cantrell

Mandeville – 12th grader at Mandeville High School

Jackson Cantrell is a National Merit Scholar, who loves to cook, host book club and film nights, clear trails, and participate in city council meetings. Jack serves as Co-President of his school’s Youth & Government Club. He often uses a word from Ghana to describe his worldview. “Sankofa” is the concept of taking lessons from the past to better guide one’s future. He believes that to benefit society, all history must be remembered. His research into lives of enslaved and Native groups began when he installed two historical markers at Fontainebleau State Park, a former 1800s sugar plantation. He discovered 153 names of family members held in bondage. He documented these findings, as well as information on local indigenous nations. State historians published both works online. His papers are also on file with Amistad Research Center. His speaking tour has included Tulane’s Environmental Law & Policy Summit and the College of William & Mary’s symposium, “Four Centuries of Black Women in America.” His will to stand up for others comes from a place close to his heart, advocating for his autistic big brother, Cole. Jack - Eagle Scout of the Year - has contributed 400+ hours in public service. Whether stocking shelves for Habitat for Humanity’s resale store, sweeping rivers of trash, or scrubbing headstones of veterans, Jack actively recruits others to join him. There is no escaping his enthusiasm. Watch this Young Hero’s story here.

Kathryn “Lexie” Davis | 2021 Louisiana Young Hero

Kathryn “Lexie” Davis

Hammond – 12th grader at Ponchatoula High School

Kathryn “Lexie” Davis is an honor student and member of the Key Club and Student Council. Her teachers depend on her to help mentor other students. As a student in the ProStart & Culinary Arts foodservice management program, Kathryn established herself as a leader with a strong work ethic from the beginning. She facilitated improved communications and provided PPE for her colleagues. An aspiring restauranteur, Kathryn has thrived during the crisis of the pandemic, pouring herself into her freelance catering work to continue the legacy of her late father, who cooked meals as a way to serve others. Lexie contacted the North Oaks Dialysis Center to ask them for recipes that would benefit dialysis patients, including her Aunt Margaret. Lexie has volunteered with the Red Cross for a number of years and volunteers with her church. With the onset of the pandemic, she decided to use her resources to further help those in need. She volunteered with “Meals for the Multitude,” a program through N. A. James Funeral Home, but decided she could do more. She began her own community meals program, “Food For The Souls.” She also developed “Blessing Bags” which provided masks, sanitizer and home cleaning products for senior citizens who otherwise would not have access to those products due to demand. She’s a role model for all who encounter her. Watch this Young Hero’s story here.

Ivory Gipson | 2021 Louisiana Young Hero

Ivory Gipson

Baton Rouge – 12th grader at Northeast High School

Ivory Gipson has maintained a near-perfect GPA while being a three-sport varsity athlete in baseball, basketball, and football; a band member; Taco Bell crew member; a Baton Rouge Youth Coalition Fellow; and Vice President of the Goal Society, a college-focused school club. Ivory dedicates almost as much to the Northeast High School community as to his family. A leader in this community since ninth grade, it was during Northeast’s senior breakfast that Ivory’s impact on his peers was apparent. They voted for him to receive five superlative awards: Best Personality & Biggest Heart, Best Best Friend, Most School Spirit, Most Likely to Succeed, and Best All-Around. He is universally respected and admired by classmates and teachers, but he saves the best of himself for home, where he plays a crucial leadership role alongside his adoring mother Latasha, helping to care for his four-year-old niece since she was born. It’s his proudest accomplishment. In fall 2021, Ivory will attend Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, one of the top schools in the nation, on a full academic scholarship. He will be the first in his family to attend college. Ivory is a hero because his determination and tenacity are unmatched. With the loving support of his family and school community, his potential is limitless. Watch this Young Hero’s story here.

Elliott Gomes | 2021 Louisiana Young Hero

Elliott Gomes

New Orleans – 9th grader at Benjamin Franklin High School

Elliott Gomes is an optimistic honor student, who consistently sees the good in everyone. Elliott is obsessed with history and loves learning about World War II. He makes fast friends at the World War II Museum, always searching for veterans to learn from. One evening, a “quick trip” to visit an exhibit resulted in Elliott unexpectedly being invited to speak at an Airman Veteran conference at the hotel across the street by a new 97-year-old friend. Elliott loves to play soccer, golf, board games, and video games. Most of all, Elliott loves life. Even when he faces challenging situations, Elliott is determined to be part of the solution. He provided free weekly tutoring online to children in his neighborhood during the pandemic. Elliott and his five cousins created and sold Louisiana-themed art to fund room, board, and tuition for an orphan at the Petals School of Africa. He has led fundraising efforts to build a well in Tanzania and to feed the homeless in New Orleans. He has participated in Academic Games, baseball, soccer (Captain), student council (Treasurer), and National Junior Honor Society, and has earned many academic awards. Elliott did not hesitate to bravely run into harm’s way to save his five-year old neighbor from two Rottweilers. The child recovered and is back to throwing the football around in the yard with Elliott. Watch this Young Hero’s story here.

Hannah Lewis | 2021 Louisiana Young Hero

Hannah Lewis

DeRidder – 12th grader at Louisiana School for Math, Science, and The Arts

Hannah Lewis is a straight A student with strong personal faith. She is kind and considerate to all people, and works hard to improve her school and community. Hannah is very involved in many academic, civic and community activities, including volunteering to help organize the Merryville Heritage Festival. She was 4-H President, Senior High Beta Secretary and Treasurer, involved in Future Business Leaders of America, her high school drama club, science club, and choir, and in local community theater. In the last year, Hannah has not only had to endure the pandemic and two hurricanes causing major damage to her home, she has suffered the sudden and unexpected death of her Mother. Hannah and her mother were very close, and this was a shocking event. Despite her grief, Hannah has kept up with her school work and activities and is an inspiration to others. At the beginning of the pandemic, Hannah and her mother sewed masks for a local nursing home and she assisted with disaster relief efforts after Hurricane Laura. Through her church, she has done yard work for the elderly, led youth groups, made stuffed animals for the Hug-A Bear project and supported organizations promoting service dogs for veterans. Hannah has been awarded the Outstanding Student Merit-based Scholarship to Louisiana Tech.

Michael Vizena | 2021 Louisiana Young Hero

Michael Vizena

Elizabeth – 10th grader at Elizabeth High School

Michael Vizena began his journey in foster care at age 3. At the age of 9, he finally found his forever family. His kind demeanor and positive spirit were evident from the start. On his 14th birthday, his parents rushed him to the emergency room. Michael was diagnosed with Leukemia the next month. His single question to the hospital staff was, "Can I still go to school?" He was told he would have to stay home for the first year of treatment. Life handed him this new obstacle right when he found his place in the world. But since then, he has been kicking cancer to the curb. He completes his treatment on January 9th, 2022 and hopes to become a Child Life Specialist. Before his diagnosis, Michael participated as a Camp Counselor at the First United Methodist Church "Buddy Camp," a camp for physically and mentally challenged children. He is a member of the EHS FFA Chapter, participated in the 2020 Southwest Louisiana Literary Rally and was awarded 4th place in agriculture, and is the 2021 EHS Baseball Team Manager. His community has adopted a "Michael Strong" outlook on life. Michael worked with community and local businesses to host blood drives though LifeShare Blood Center. Over 150 units of blood have been donated in Michael's name. Michael is eager for the future, and to share his story to improve the lives of others.

The Louisiana Young Heroes logo | 2021 | current official
The Louisiana Young Heroes program is presented this year with the generous support of AmeriHealth Caritas Louisiana, the U.S. Army, Baton Rouge Recruiting Battalion, Community Coffee, and East Baton Rouge Parish Library with additional support from Hotel Indigo and DEMCO.