Dr. Gerardo Davalos, a pediatric heart surgeon and member of the Rotary Club of Quito, Ecuador, performs a life-saving procedure on a child in 2012. The surgery was funded through a Rotary Foundation Matching Grant.
Pediatric heart surgeon Gerardo Davalos has treated scores of young heart patients, but one made a particular impression on him.
The day before 11-year-old Josue Ochoa died in 2013, Dr. Davalos, a member of the Rotary Club of Quito, Ecuador, walked into the boy's hospital room to say goodbye. The atmosphere in the room, where family members were gathered, was somber. But one person was smiling and comforting everyone else. It was Josue.
Says Davalos: "I'll never forget how strong Josue was in that moment. He wasn't concerned about himself. He was more worried about his mom and dad. He kept telling them that everything was going to be OK and that he'd lived a great life. He was an amazing child."
And Josue also shared his gratitude with Davalos. "He told me, 'Thank you for giving me a chance to dance at school,' "the surgeon recalls.
Five years earlier, funded by a Rotary Foundation grant that paid for corrective heart surgeries for underprivileged children at Quito's Hospital Metropolitano, Davalos had performed a complicated operation that saved Josue's life.
The ensuing recovery period had been extremely hard for the youngster, who'd had to remain in the hospital for two months after the surgery. But "Josue never complained once; he always had a smile on his face," says Davalos. "He couldn't wait to get out of the hospital and dance."........
Rotary GB & I is pleased to announce the seven remarkable youngsters from across Britain and Ireland who have been recognised in the annual Young Citizen Awards for their outstanding contribution to community causes.
The awards celebrate the positive citizenship and responsibilities that are shown by many young people. The winners were nominated by Rotary clubs across Great Britain and Ireland and all of them are youngsters who have gone to great lengths to help others, often overcoming adversity themselves. The winners are:
Aled Griffiths, aged 11, nominated by the Rotary Club of Plymouth
Aled, from Plymstock, Plymouth was born with the rare medical condition Vacterl Association, which left him with a hole in his heart, missing fingers, curvature of the spine, as well as bowel and bladder problems and only one kidney.
Despite his condition, and undergoing 12 operations, Aled has campaigned to help others with his condition and raise awareness of his medical disorder. He is also a Child Ambassador for the Mitrofanoff Support Group.
Jamie Harrington, aged 16 and Luke Clerkin, aged 23, nominated by the Rotary Club of Dublin Central
The duo from Dublin set up Action for Suicide Prevention, after they both themselves suffered from depression. They first joined together to start to raise funds for Teen-Line Ireland by busking in Temple Bar, raising more than €7,000, and have campaigned to keep the helpline open after it lost its government funding. They now have groups all over Ireland.
Chloe Ball-Hopkins, aged 18, nominated by the Rotary Club of Cotswold Tyndale
Tipped for the GB Paralympic Squad in Archery for 2016, Chloe from Wotton-Under-Edge in Gloucestershire suffers from Muscular Dystrophy and from an early age she has been a fundraiser for the cause and has helped to increase awareness of the muscle-wasting, life-limiting condition.
Conor Begley, aged 17, nominated by the Rotary Club of Dundalk
Conor from Greenore in County Louth, Ireland is being honoured for his outstanding technology skills, which are significantly helping the lives of those who have difficulty communicating. Wanting to help his quadriplegic aunt, who suffers from cerebral palsy, he developed a communication aid using a basic computer chip. The project is aimed at helping other disabled people with communication problems, including stroke victims and people with motor neurone disease.
Bella Field, aged 9, nominated by the Rotary Club of Redbridge
After Bella’s sister tragically passed away from a brain tumour aged 8, she came up with unique ways to help raise around £80,000 for the Haven House Children’s Hospice in Woodford Green, Essex, including performing in shows under the banner of Molly Field Productions and organising fundraising events from the age of six. She is also a “buddy” at the hospice helping other children who have siblings with life limiting illnesses.
Katriona Goodsell, aged 19, nominated by the Rotary Club of Plympton
Katriona is the daughter of service personnel and became an Ambassador for Her Majesty’s School Heroes (HMS Heroes) in 2012, the charity is a unique student voice group formed to support service children aged 3 to 18. Katriona has become the voice for Plymouth service children and has made two films to raise awareness about the difficulties they face, including anxiety about parents going into conflict zones and being bullied at school.
The judges of the Young Citizen Awards chose from almost 70 entries from across the UK and Ireland, and the seven winners received their awards on stage at the 90th Rotary GB & Ireland conference in Belfast last weekend.
Eve Conway, Vice President Elect for Rotary GB & Ireland, commented: “The achievements of these young people are outstanding and serve as an inspiration to us all. They go above and beyond to help make a difference to the lives of other people, putting the needs of others before their own to bring about change. I wish them all the very best of luck for the future and I’m sure they will continue to build on their successes.”
To learn more about the young citizens honoured visit the BBC’s website, which features coverage of the ceremony: www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-32285317
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