Introducing the incredible and inspiring 2014 National AXA Achievers
|Max Ashton, Phoenix, AZ
Became the youngest blind person to climb to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. After training for a year in the Arizona desert with a sighted partner, Max braved altitude sickness, subzero temperatures, fatigue and sleeplessness to complete the seven-day, 19,340-foot ascent. In the process, he helped raise $250,000 for the Foundation for Blind Children. He has since given dozens of speeches on the abilities and accomplishments of the visually impaired.
|Hannah Butler, Locust Grove, AR
Developed a fingerprinting program to help protect children at a local elementary school. Prompted by a child’s brief disappearance from school, Hannah launched a “fingerprint-a-thon” to create records that could help locate missing children. She worked with police, classmates, school administrators and parents to complete the project, producing identification cards that will be an invaluable resource for the school in times of emergency.
|Rohit Gupta, Aurora, CO
Started a nonprofit to provide tutoring to children and teens. Rohit discovered his talent for tutoring in high school, based on his understanding that each student learns differently. He founded his nonprofit, RAW-Guidance (Reading, Arithmetic and Writing), to expand his teaching activities. He has developed seven free educational apps, which have been downloaded 12,000 times, and he has tutored more than 200 students.
|Natasha Harpalani, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Founded a nonprofit to provide recycled pacemakers to needy patients in India. After her grandfather in India developed heart problems and received a pacemaker, Natasha learned that tens of thousands of usable pacemakers are discarded at funeral homes each year even though millions of people die due to the lack of the devices. Through her nonprofit, Keeping Pace, she has harvested and delivered 21 pacemakers to Holy Family Hospital in Mumbai.
|Jingjing Xiao, Louisville, KY
Discovered the mechanism of an unprecedented genomic cancer treatment that is able to kill cancer without harming normal cells. Jingjing began working on genomic cancer research in an internship program as a freshman in high school. Her research has furthered the understanding of the working of the Bcl-2 oligonucleotide (ODN), a novel treatment for leukemia patients. It also revealed that the treatment can target an oncoprotein common to multiple strains of cancer, a discovery of significance to more than 13 million cancer patients.
|Tyler Lang, Manchester, ME
Helped protect state funding for health centers in Maine’s public schools. When these centers were threatened by budget cuts, Tyler successfully lobbied state legislators to maintain funding for all 27. He then worked to promote school health centers nationwide as a member of the Youth Advisory Council for the School-Based Health Alliance. He met with the Secretary of Education to discuss the idea, and he helped engage members of congress to sponsor a bill authorizing $50 million for centers across the country.
|Kamal Smith, Accokeek, MD
Created a public awareness campaign to protect deer and drivers on the roads in his rural community. Mobilized by the death of a family whose car hit a deer on a road near his home, and by the rising number of deer killed by vehicles, Kamal started B-Aware of Deer. The campaign includes posters, pamphlets and a video to promote safety, and it resulted in the placement of deer safety signs on a major highway.
|Oscar Lee, Highland Park, NJ
Started a financial literacy campaign to teach basic concepts to everyone from children to senior citizens. Oscar created Cash Counts! as a high school sophomore. Its programs have grown to include seminars at senior centers, classes in elementary schools, social media outreach, library book displays, a speaker series, movie screenings and a business scholarship.
|Adarsh Bhatt, Portland, OR
Founded a nonprofit to provide eye care to impoverished children in India. On a trip to visit his grandfather in India, Adarsh was saddened by the eye diseases he saw in children and stunned to learn that 300 million young Indians lack even the most rudimentary eye care. He created HopeWithoutBorders (HWB) to help combat the problem. The organization has raised money to finance 40 eye operations and recruited local volunteers to extend HBW’s initiatives on the ground in India.
|Peter Welcker III, Parkersburg, WV
Developed a safe, effective, low-cost way to remove the chemical contaminant BPA from canned food and bottled water. Dedicated to using science to improve society, Peter discovered that BPA can be virtually eliminated at home by coating cooking utensils with a small amount of a mineral found in multivitamins. He has a patent pending on this process.