Eleven-year old Stephanie Davis of Trumbull, Connecticut was honored in Washington, D.C. this spring for her volunteer work for NAAR. The sixth grader, who has an 18-year-old cousin with autism, was one of two Prudential Spirit of the Community Award winners from her home state. In all, two students from each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, received the awards.
From April 30 – May 3, Stephanie and her mother, Cynthia, traveled to Washington, D.C., where she received $1,000 and a silver pendant at a ceremony at the Smithsonian Institution. Other planned activities for the award winners included a one-day cruise and visits to the National Cathedral and Arlington National Cemetery. Stephanie also received congratulatory letters from U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays and state Rep. T.R. Rowe, both of Connecticut.
In 2004 Stephanie began creating beautiful heart-shaped pins out of hardened hot glue and metallic paint, and selling them to raise money for NAAR. She dubbed her fundraising effort the "Have a Heart" campaign, selling her first pins at the Greater Boston and Rhode Island Walks, and in her community. Since then she has continued to sell at stores in her neighborhood. To date she has raised more than $4,000.
Stephanie was very excited about winning the Prudential award, but her focus has always been on the greater goal. “I think it's a really good way to get the word out about autism,” she said.
Stephanie has been a NAAR volunteer for over 4 years. Her cousin, David Krinsky, is the inspiration of her work with the organization. Stephanie was a member of NAAR's first Young Leadership Awards, an "Honor Roll" of those young leaders who have made significant contributions to the National Alliance for Autism Research.