From the Homefront: 2018 Military Child of the Year Award submissions

Written by Shelley Kimball

Moving to new towns, always being the new kid, waiting at home for a deployed parent. Then finding time to excel in schoolwork, enjoying sports and the arts, and giving back to their communities.

Coast Guard kids can not only thrive among the obstacles, but they can excel. Operation Homefront is looking for nominations of exceptional Coast Guard kids to be considered for the 2018 Military Child of the Year Award.

This year’s recipient of the overall Military Child of the Year award was Kate Cooper, daughter of Capt. Tom Cooper and his wife Lynne. Kate excelled at several sports, though she is a below-the-knee amputee, and she volunteered for 14 different organizations by the time she was a junior in high school.

Mary Kate Cooper, daughter of Coast Guard Capt. Tom and Lynne Cooper, was selected as the Military Child of the Year for 2017 by Operation Homefront. Presenting the award to her at the annual gala, from left, are retired Air Force Brig. Gen. John I. Pray, the president and CEO of Operation Homefront; Adm. Paul Zukunft, Commandant of the Coast Guard; Ellyn Dunford, a keynote speaker for the evening and the wife of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Bryan Arnold, chairman of the board of directors for Operation Homefront. Photo courtesy of Operation Homefront.

Mary Kate Cooper, daughter of Coast Guard Capt. Tom and Lynne Cooper, was selected as the Military Child of the Year for 2017 by Operation Homefront. Presenting the award to her at the annual gala, from left, are retired Air Force Brig. Gen. John I. Pray, the president and CEO of Operation Homefront; Adm. Paul Zukunft, Commandant of the Coast Guard; Ellyn Dunford, a keynote speaker for the evening and the wife of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Bryan Arnold, chairman of the board of directors for Operation Homefront. Photo courtesy of Operation Homefront.

For her, being selected for the award was a way to represent the community of Coast Guard kids she knows work hard every day to thrive in the midst of obstacles.

“I was really humbled,” she said. “I know a lot of Coast Guard kids and I could find an award to give all of them because they are amazing.”

Some statistics about the 2017 recipients – they had moved four or more times, they had at least one parent deploy for at least 29 months, and they averaged 370 service hours during the previous year.

The previous year, Keegan Fike was selected as the 2016 Coast Guard Military Child of the Year for his consistent support of the communities in which he lived, even though he moved six times. Service was a way to belong to each new town, so he would organize food drives, participate in flag-retirement ceremonies, shovel snow for senior citizens, serve and clean up after meals at church. He also led a project to restore cannons at a Revolutionary War landmark. He is the son of Lt. Brent Fike and his wife Rebecca.

To recognize an extraordinary Coast Guard teen like Kate or Keegan, nominate them here. Nominations will be accepted through December 4.

Anyone can nominate a deserving military child. Here are some of the rules:

Mary Kate Cooper was selected as the Military Child of the Year by Operation Homefront. Photo courtesy of Operation Homefront.

Mary Kate Cooper was selected as the Military Child of the Year by Operation Homefront. Photo courtesy of Operation Homefront.

• The nominee must be between 13 and 18 years old at the time of the nomination.
• The teen must be a legal military dependent (with military ID or DEERS enrollment).
• The nominee and one parent or guardian must be available to travel to Washington DC from April 18 to April 20 for the awards gala.

This year, the award program will also include a special, seventh award for innovation. The Military Child of the Year Award for Innovation will be given to a military child who has recognized a local, regional, or global challenge and has designed a creative solution to address it. The Award for Innovation recipient will have the opportunity to work on the project with Booz Allen Hamilton, the award sponsor. Students apply for this award themselves – they do not need a nomination.

The six teens selected to represent each branch of service plus the one teen selected for the innovation award will win $10,000 each, a laptop, and a trip to Washington, DC.

 

Portrait of Shelley Kimball.

Portrait of Shelley Kimball.

Operation Homefront, which sponsors the Military Child of the Year award, has been supporting military families for 15 years. Among its programs, the nonprofit organization provides financial assistance during a crisis, helps veterans find homes with it Homes on the Homefront program, provides back-to-school supplies for military kids, baby showers, and holiday meals for military families.

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