“My Hero” Make a Difference Contest

March 26, 2010

My ninth grade students are currently reading Night by Holocaust survivor, Eli Wiesel. While previewing the novel, we watched clips from Freedom Writers on the Holocaust and in particular Anne Frank. One quote by Miep Gies stuck out to me. It means something for us as writers, as people, as readers, etc. Here’s the quote:

“But even an ordinary secretary or a housewife or a teenager can, within their own small ways, turn on a small light in a dark room. To me, you are the heroes.”

The idea that even teens can make a difference and be heroes really struck home to me since I’m a teacher, and I write for teens as well. It brought me full circle back to thinking of my personal hero and teenager, Mattie Stepanek and what his message of hope, peace, and making a difference has meant to me and the world.

Speaking of how teens can make a difference, I was so impressed by sixteen year old author Riley Carney who three years ago when she was thirteen(yes, I did say thirteen!), created a non-profit organization called Breaking the Chain. Their mission was to eradicate illiteracy for children not just in America, but all over the world.  Because of Riley’s efforts,  three schools have been built in Africa.  Not only that, but she helped created a literacy center in a woman’s shelter in Colorado and bought books for reading programs in the US.

So, here’s where the contest comes in. We’re giving away a copy of Mattie Stepanek’s NY Times best selling book of poetry, Heartsongs . To win all you have to do is give us the name of your hero. It can be a famous person, or it can be anyone big or small who has touched your life. Then we’ll pick a winner from the comments.

But here’s where you get to pay it forward. For each comment we receive, we will donate $1.00 to the Muscular Dystrophy Association in memory of Mattie and all those who have lost their battle with Muscular Dystrophy. Please RT this contest and help us get a lot of comments to give a big donation.

Winners will be drawn Wednesday, March 31st



  1. Awesome idea, Krista–thank you SO MUCH for doing this! As a physical therapist, I’ve seen firsthand what a heartbreaking disease muscular dystrophy is. Every dollar for research counts!

  2. What a wonderful blog post and what a great thing to do!

  3. Thanks guys! Don’t forget to tell us who your hero or heroes are.

    For me, Mattie is a hero along with my aunt, Janet, who passed away from MD. She was bedridden the last year of her life, but she never lost her humor or her sweet spirit. And my grammy, Virginia, for being a true Steel Magnolia. At 72, she took care of my aunt so that she wouldn’t have to go to a nursing home. She lost both of her daughters within 5 wks, and during the whole hellish ordeal, she showed grace and courage under fire and never wavered in her faith.

    They’re my heroes!

    • Such a great contest, Krista.

      My hero? Is it too cheesy to say it’s my mom?

      Well, whatever, then I’m cheesy. 🙂

  4. This is a really wonderful contest, ladies. My hero…really, both my parents. (I’m cheesy too!)

  5. Awesome contest guys! And what a great cause.
    My Dad is my hero 🙂

  6. Heroes are hard to name – probably my dad, for his work ethic.

  7. Great idea guys. I’m not sure I have a hero. I’ll have to think about it.

  8. Haha looks like I’m in the same boat as everyone else – my dad is my hero.

    Great contest for a great cause! Thank you for doing this.

  9. The kid named Andrew I knew in 4th grade. A swarm of kids surrounded him, heckling him. It was bizarre, I’ve hardly seen anything like it. He was a big kid, he could’ve probably knocked over half the crowd of pipsqueaks if he’d just swung his fist. But he didn’t. He just stood there, tried to calm them, kept his temper. I was absolutely amazed.
    People who can keep their temper even when others are antagonizing them amaze me. I want to be like them. To behave with love when others don’t deserve it…that’s heroic to me.

  10. My mom is definitely my heroine. She always encouraged me to do what I felt called to do, and it wasn’t until I got older that I realized that she made sacrifices to help make my dreams possible. (Yes, it’s cheesy. Sometimes, a little cheese is good for you.)

  11. This is a great idea!
    For me, I’d have to say my friends are my heroes. We’ve all been through a lot and because of them, it makes the stresses easier to deal with.

    • My hero is my grandmother (my mom’s mom). My grandma grew up in Berlin, Germany, went to the 1936 Olympics (yup, she got to see them in person!), and because she was Jewish she was affected by Kristallnacht (Night of the Broken Glass). My grandma was really lucky, and she and her family was able to get out of Germany. They went on a boat called the S.S. St. Louis, which would take them to Cuba to some of their family. But when they got to Cuba, Cuba would not let the passengers in. My grandma, who was sixteen, could see her family on land but couldn’t touch them, only yell or wave to them. The boat was docked for a week or so before FINALLY 4 countries decided to take in the unwanted Jews. The 4 countries were Belgium, France, England, and the Netherlands. Most of the people who were sent to Belgium, France and the Netherlands were killed later on when the Germans invaded those countries. My grandma and her family were lucky enough to go to England. She is my hero because at 16 and older, she went through all of that and one of her biggest regrets was she did not get to finish high school or go to college.

      OPWFT I think this is a wonderful thing, giving to the MDA. I don’t think enough awareness is brought to this physical disability, and even if I didn’t have a ‘hero’ i would still comment just to benefit the cause. 🙂

  12. One of my heroes is Peter Cole, founder of Teens Camping Tour of the West. He didn’t know of a job that fit his dreams, so he created one. He inspires me to chase after those moments that make my heart sing and to encourage others to do the same.

  13. Yay! Great blog post–what a wonderful thing to do. 🙂

  14. Awesome contest, and a great way to raise awareness for this serious disease.

  15. I have two heroes and they are married to each other. Liz is 65 and was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when she was 16. Twenty-five surgeries later she’s still positive, never complaining about the unfairness of her illness that took from her the ability to have children. Her husband Dan has been with her for 35 years, being her caretaker in so many ways. I’ve seen him hold her and pray for her during her seizures. They love each other so much and are committed, with awesome attitudes.

    Great post Krista!

  16. Oh what a wonderful thing to do! I’ve RT’d and posted to my Facebook profile. My hero is my nephew, who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. I look up to him, even as he only comes up to a little above my belly button. LOL! He’s incredible and my inspiration every single day.

  17. I want to say first that I love to pay it forward! Thanks for such a great opportunity!
    I have a few heroes…
    1st is my 5 yr old grandson that has incurable brain cancer & is still extremely smart, funny & brave as can be!
    Then of course there’s my Mom who went through so much strife in life. Then after a 3.5 year brave battle with breast cancer she passed away at only 46. She was the strongest, bravest woman I’ve ever known.

  18. My hero is my husband Robert who lives every day to the fullest though he has FSH MD. His positive attitude and fight for quality life in the midst of adversity is an inspiration to me and all who know him.

  19. One of my biggest heroes is my 12 year old son who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. He is very brave and doesn’t let the disease get him down. He has a great attitude and is very upbeat. Thank you for supporting the MDA.

  20. Mattie was a hero to many and I have 3 of his books, AWESOME child mature beyond his years. And another hero to me is Cody Schoppe , a young man battleing this disease but not giving in to it. He has the sweetest disposition and attitude. He is so well loved in our small town and gives lots of love back. Always has a smile on his face .

  21. I’ve never really had a hero besides my mom and dad, until 12 yrs. ago I was blessed with a true angel in my life, my son Cody. Cody has Duchenne MD and finds joy in the littlest things in life. He never complains and has the biggest, most generous and loving heart of anyone I know. Even though the everyday things most of us take for granted seem to get harder for him, he pushes on and enlightens the lives of ever single person he comes in contact with. I love him so much and am proud to have him as my son, my friend, my angel, and most of all MY HERO. Thank you so so much for doing this most amazing benefit for MDA. Ya’ll are the best!!!

  22. Denise, thank you so much for helping support our conest by RT’ing and posting to Facebook. We really appreciate it! I will be thinking of your nephew, and I know he is blessed to have such a thoughtful aunt.

  23. Nancy, thank you so much for your comment. And I will keep Cody in my thoughts and prayers as he fights this terrible disease. Bless you and him!

  24. Dana, thank you so much for stopping by to comment. Bless you and your son as he struggles with this disease. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  25. Scott, thank you so much for stopping by to comment. Bless you and your son as he struggles with this disease. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  26. Michelle, thank you so much for stopping by to post your heroes. I’m so sorry about your mom and grandson. My mom passed away from a brain tumor, so I know how awful that can be. Bless you and your grandson.

  27. Amy thank you so much for your comment. Your husband will be in my thoughts and prayers. Bless you both!

  28. I’ve met quite a few people that are heros, but I have to give it to my students that come from rough home lives, have little to no support, yet show up every morning with their homework and ready to learn.

    I was blessed with a good family and I can’t imagine going through what some of these kids have to.

    I admire them so much.

  29. My son & daughter-in-law are my hero & heroine. I have a very progressive form of MS, and they let me live with them rather than go to a nursing home. As a young married couple, they certainly deserve more…

  30. What a great idea! My hero is my husband. I was only nineteen when we got married – he was 21. We’ve been together for many, many years, and he has always encouraged me to follow my dreams, no matter what. He is my biggest and best supporter. (Besides, he thinks every little thing I write is brilliant, even when it isn’t!) I can’t imagine my life without him.

  31. What a wonderful contest idea. My hero is my grandmother, who lived until she was 102. She was sharp right to the end, and as ornery as they come.

    BTW, I love the title of your blog! I’ll be stopping back again.

  32. I’m a little late to the party, but hat a wonderful idea! My daughter is my hero. She’s only 2, but she’s managed to battle an awful disease w/out even batting an eye. You could never tell she was sick and to this day she’s an upbeat and happy little girl. I’m blessed to have her in my life and to be able to say I’m her mother.

  33. My hero is my friend Sal. He has a tube in his head and has been in so many surgeries since his birth that he lost count. He has had every excuse to be lazy, unmotivated, depressed, angry, jobless, self-loathing, et cetera. If you met him you wouldn’t have any idea. He’s friendly and would go a mile out of his way for you. He’s kind and funny, and works hard at his job which he has consistently had for years. He is responsible and goal-oriented, yet he makes time for his friends and to play guitar. He’s the best friend anyone could ask for even though he knows that it’s only a matter of time he’ll be in the hospital again and again. How old is my hero? He is smart and doesn’t drink, smoke, do drugs, or party. He’s healthy and practical. He’s 23 and he’s my hero.

  34. Wow! What a great way to spread a message, and to ‘do good’ at the same time. Please let your students know that I would love to read their essays and thoughts as they move ‘forthward’ as Mattie called it, in hope and peace, and making a positive and powerful difference in this world.
    In hope and peace,
    Jeni Stepanek, Ph.D. (“Mattie’s mom”).

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