Natalia Serna

Buckley Space Force Base

Cash Prize: $750
Donation to Charity: $750
Charity Selected: International Rescue Committee - Crisis in Ukraine View Submission

Mereiyle Aezha

Patrick Space Force Base

Cash Prize: $500
Donation to Charity: $500
Charity Selected: Daily Bread Inc. in Melbourne Florida View Submission

Miles Graff

Nas Whidbey

Cash Prize: $250
Donation to Charity: $250
Charity Selected: Wigs For Kids View Submission

Share your story!

Hello! My name is Natalia Serna, and I’m 14 years old. I currently live at Buckley SFB in Aurora, CO. What makes a hero? To many people, heroics mean different things. I could go on writing endless paragraphs on the qualities and characteristics that I imagine make a hero, but instead, I’ll list my top three. I believe that heroes are people who are selfless, empathetic, and kind. When I think of the word hero, I think of someone who puts others ahead of themselves and self-sacrifices for the benefit of the people around them. Of course, not all heroes dawn a cape and mask, but we see heroes in action from day to day. Whether it be frontline workers or parents, they are always there to help.

I've always wanted to help others in my community because kindness should never have a limit! This one time, I attended Sunday mass, and as I was leaving the building, I saw a large cardboard box that read, "Clothes Drive, benefit those in need this holiday season." As I walked by it, the box was empty. This made me sad because of the fact that people weren’t getting the warm attire that they needed through this drive. I contemplated what I could do to aid the situation on the ride home, and then it struck me. "Why don’t I just donate some of my clothes!" If it meant helping those in need, I didn’t even have to think twice. Once I got home, I got a bag and put jackets and warm clothes that I felt could be used during the cold winter season. The next day I returned and happily placed my items in the box. Even though I thought that what I did wasn’t that grand, I still felt like I made a difference for at least one person, which made me feel happy. That’s precisely what I consider a hero to be. Someone who seeks the happiness of others when doing the right thing.


Rhyannon Edwards

Camp Pendleton

Cash Prize: $1,000
Donation to Charity: $1,000
Charity Selected: Rady's Children's Hospital Foundation View Submission

Joseph Cobb

Fort Lee Army

Cash Prize: $1,000
Donation to Charity: $1,000
Charity Selected: CASA of El Paso View Submission

Harper Cude

Wheeler Army Airfield

Cash Prize: $500
Donation to Charity: $500
Charity Selected: HUGS Hawaii View Submission

Dylan Frey

Fort Jackson SC

Cash Prize: $500
Donation to Charity: $500
Charity Selected: Shriners Hospital of South Carolina View Submission

I am Dylan Frey, my mother’s name is Major Karla Evans; she has been in the military for 18 years and I have been with her, supporting her for 14. She was sworn into the South Carolina National Guard a day before I was born, and when I was about six she went overseas to Kosevo for a year and a half. It was one of the hardest times of my life because I did not fully understand the situation; the only thing I understood was that my mother was gone and I was not certain when she was coming back. When she returned we moved to Laurens, South Carolina where we currently reside. A couple months before I turned ten my little sister, Heather, was born; around this time my mom had to go to Fort Meade, Maryland for three months, and my sister and I moved to New York to live with our grandmother for the duration of this deployment. I did everything I could to care for Heather such as feeding her, or giving her a bottle, but mostly just loving her and being there for her since her mother could not be.

Over two years later my mom was offered a position working as an EA for a direct report to the Secretary of Defense in Washington DC. At this time we had moved back to Laurens and I now had a little brother, Joe. While my mother was away I helped in whatever ways I could to make the job of caring for two children easier for my step-dad, Don, who is a military veteran and was part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I did much the same for Joe as I did for Heather, and occasionally babysat when something came up if Don had to be somewhere else. He often had to work late, so we had a family friend who would pick them up from daycare. Even though we had child care I would often cook for them and put them to bed as I felt it was my responsibility to look after them if Don had to be out very late. I also cleaned the house, did dishes, and took out the garbage as well; my mother periodically came home to see us, but this was not the last time she was deployed.

In October of 2020, she left on a DOD approved mission in support of CBP where she received honors for best practices for Covid 19 vaccine informational campaign. This time Don has a different job with shorter hours, so my responsibilities are not as numerous, but I have, and will in the future, have to watch my siblings for my step-dad when something spontaneous occurs that demands his presence. I still try to comfort my siblings, as they grow and through all the hardship we’ve been through together their smile makes it all worthwhile. I have been told by both my mother and Don that I make life easier and even that they could not do it without me, hearing that tells me that I’ve done my part, and I am glad I help my Parents so they can help others.

I really don’t think I’m a hero. My family is the part of the military community I can do the most for, so everyday I try and do whatever I can for them.

Rhyannon Edwards, Hero

My family is more than just a military family. My parents started a business in 2017 sewing weighted blankets. I never really helped much when they started the business. When the pandemic began in 2020, they started getting requests for handmade masks. Orders and donation requests started coming in fast! I would watch them sew day and night. At first, I helped with matching fabrics and cutting threads. A few weeks later, my mom taught me how to sew masks. Most kids I know spend all their free time playing outside or with phones and video games. In the past year, I have spent a lot of my free time sewing while watching movies with my family. On the weekends, I would sew for 2-3 hours straight while watching TV with my siblings each night. I would carry my machine from room to room and get to work.

My parents came up with an idea to sell some masks to help with the costs of donating masks. We have donated to schools, hospitals, and military members all over the world! I have sewn over 100 masks for my school and my old elementary school. Our family has sent out almost 5,000 face masks in the past year. I have sewn over 250 on my own and helped with over 1,000.

There were a lot of scared people when the pandemic began. I could have been scared too but I chose to help the people who were scared by sewing masks for them. Our masks are washable and reusable so they aren’t polluting the environment as much as disposable masks. I also helped the parents of my classmates save money by donating masks to their children. That made a big difference to a lot of parents that struggled with money or lost their jobs during the pandemic. I became a hero when I started making masks like my dad became a hero when he joined the Marine Corps.

My Inspiring Hero Story

Have you ever thought of giving back to someone who helped you? That’s what I did to the hospital who saved my life. In September of 2020, I decided to run a toy drive for Tripler Army Medical Center (TAMC), the hospital that cured my cancer when I was 7, at my school. Over the course of a week, the school would collect donations from students who brought in money. Then, I would buy toys for the toy room at the hospital and surprise all the kids in the hospital with new toys!

On July 7 2017, I was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a type of soft tissue cancer (if you would like to learn more visit https://www.cancer.gov/) . The hospital had done so much for me and I wanted to thank them as much as I could. So I set up a toy drive mostly for the kids. The play room didn’t have a lot of toys and the rooms on the ward were small. It would get quite boring sitting in bed with nothing to do but watching Disney Junior. When I donated I thought the play rooms would be more fun since they’d have more toys.

The day had come. I was finally donating $2,000 worth of toys for kids! I felt excited, thankful, and nostalgic all at the same time! “SURPRISE!” We gave the awaiting kids 2 Nintendo Switches, 1 Nintendo Switch Lite, dolls, coloring supplies and much more! I felt amazing. After giving the nurses a hug, I left the hospital with a huge smile on my face.


Dylan Wakefield

Moody AFB

Cash Prize: $500
Donation to Charity: $500
Charity Selected: The Lamp Project, helping the homeless (Valdosta, GA) View Submission

I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles. My heroes are police officers, nurses, any branch of the military, and firefighters. The reason I chose any branch of military is because they risk their lives and sacrifice family time so they can keep our country safe. The reason I chose police officers is because they help keep our community safe and crime off the streets. Nurses risk their health and their family time to help the sick and injured. Lastly, I chose firefighters because they rush into burning buildings to save people that are in there and don’t even know. They also put out wildfires like the one from Australia.

On my birthday for the last seven years, instead of getting gifts, I asked people to donate toys and money to Joey’s Toy Box. Joey’s Toy Box gives toys to terminally ill patients who are undergoing treatments. Over the last seven years, I have been able to raise over 10,000 dollars. The reason I do this is, so the kids have something to keep them company while they are in treatments and help them remain calm and not afraid.

Written by: Owen R.Wilson

Owen Wilson

Maxwell AFB

Cash Prize: $250
Donation to Charity: $250
Charity Selected: The Shepherd Center spinal cord and brain injury rehabilitation (Atlanta, GA) View Submission

My name is Dylan Wakefield and I am fifteen years old. I currently live at Moody AFB where my mom serves as an Engineer. I am a military brat. I want to share my story with you. I love pets and helping people. Recently, my mom notified me that a SSgt in our neighborhood (base housing) was in the hospital. She had been there for a few weeks already and the lady that was taking care of her cat was no longer able to. Immediately I told my Mom I wanted to help. I did not know the SSgt’s name or why she was in the hospital but I wanted to relieve the burden and worry about her cat. For over a month I watched her cat until she was released from the hospital. Fortunately we live in the same neighborhood so I would to her house and take care of the cat. I ensured he was fed, his litter box was cleaned and he had enough food and water too. I was in school, but I ensured I visited no less than three times a day for at least on hour and sometimes I would stay there for longer. I knew that I wasn’t going to be paid for watching her cat, but I did it regardless because I knew that she needed the help. I did what I felt was right and lended a hand.

Another time about six months ago I watched two dogs for a guy while he was TDY. He could not find someone to watch his dogs because he was unable to pay so I watched the dogs for three weeks and took care of them.

I don’t always do something to get the reward at the end of the road I do it because it is necessary and right; taking care of pets isn’t a problem for me and it feels good to know that you are relieving a burden from someone while they are out serving our country. To me, the payment I get is the protection that the military provides me and the rest of the country. I believe that getting to be in a military family is a privilege and I am thankful that the military provides me and my family with a roof over our heads, food, water, and an education. I am also thankful that the military allows us to travel from state to state and sometimes to other countries.

After reading my story, you and I both know I am not a Hero. My Mom and the other members of the military, like the two mentioned in my story are! But, I submitted my story because if I win I will use my scholarship for my upcoming college education and donate half to my charity of choice: The Lamp, a homeless shelter in Valdosta, GA.

Joseph Cobb

Fort Lee Army

Cash Prize: $150
Donation to Charity: $150
Charity Selected: The Ronald McDonald House, helping families support their children during a medical crisis (Richmond, VA) View Submission