Youth volunteers honored at national gala

Olympian Michael Phelps talks with Lucia Hoerr and Shishir Sriramoju of Virginia at the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards gala.
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WASHINGTON (NEWSPLEX) -- Two Virginia teens, including a St. Anne's-Belfield student, were honored for their volunteerism in Washingon, D.C.

They also met Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps, who personally congratulated the honorees.

Seventeen-year-old Lucia Hoerr of Charlottesville and 14-year-old Shishir Sriramoju of Ashburn were presented with the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards along with 100 other youth from across the United States.

Each honoree also got $1,000 at the gala dinner reception at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program, which is sponsored by Prudential Financial and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, selected Hoerr and Sriramoju as Virginia's top youth volunteers earlier this year.

When she was nine, Hoerr started a school supplies organization called Backpack Buddies that works with the local Boys and Girls Clubs to get kids backpacks full of school supplies.

In the years since, the nonprofit as provided almost 1,500 supply-filled backpacks for kids whose families cannot afford to buy them.

Sriramoju is an eighth-grader at Stone Hill Middle School where he started a summer chess club to introduce the game to elementary school students and raise money for charities.

"These honorees have done exemplary work to contribute to the health and vitality of their communities, and we look forward to seeing the great things they achieve in the future," Said John Strangfeld, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, Inc.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program has honored more than 120,000 young volunteers since it was founded in 1995.

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