Gitanjali Rao, a current seventh grader at STEM School Highlands Ranch in Denver, Colorado, was appalled after learning about the Flint Water Crisis, where dangerous levels of lead in the water affected thousands across Michigan. Upon researching more about the aftermath of the crisis and learning that it still remains a major issue in our nation, she set out to create a nanotube sensor device to equip every household to test their water.
When Kathy Hecht’s father unexpectedly became legally blind, she and her family began to brainstorm creative sources of joy to help him cope with having more empty hours in the day. Kathy, who had rescued and trained dogs with her father while growing up, found the answer quickly: a retired Australian shepherd show dog named Eddie, who was no ordinary companion. She believes that a connection with animals can be a powerful healing tool for anyone, and she has proved this through Salute of Service, a nonprofit that seeks to help veterans train their own service dogs at no charge.
Passionate about giving back, Jake Reid has volunteered with more than 30 organizations. And no matter the cause, his mission of turning actions into positive outcomes for the people around him remains the same. For the last five years, Jake has volunteered as a coach with his local Special Olympics chapter, making it his priority to ensure that the athletes are having fun. He strives to make sure that his participants enjoy each and every weekly practice, and that they become just as excited to come back as he is to help.
Pageant friends Alyssa Lego and Amanda Witkowski are creating a movement with three simple words: Shop. Sell. Strut! Since 2017, these two friends have been organizing fashion shows in collaboration with nonprofits like Autism NJ and the Morgan Marie Michael Foundation to raise awareness and funds for autistic youth in their communities.