June 16, 2022
After the passing of beloved patient and friend, Rowan Windham, in 2016, Methodist Children’s Hospital renamed its annual cereal drive to honor his legacy, but to take it a step further, the hospital created Champions for Change to continue his legacy. This program highlights kids like Rowan who show acts of leadership, compassion, and selflessness.
The following nine students make up the 2022 Champions for Change class. Each student was selected as a Champion for their unique contributions to their communities.
Bethany Aguilar, 4th, Homeschool
Bethany is a special 9-year-old girl. She has been volunteering since she was 4-years-old at organizations like Strong Foundation, The Texas Diaper Bank, Daily Bread Ministries, Snack Pak For Kids, Animal Defense League, Ronald McDonald House, Children's Hunger Fund, The Salvation Army, Operation Christmas Child, Elf Louise, and The City of San Antonio Animal Care Services. This past Christmas, she raised money and took donations to buy toys for Christian Assistance Ministry (CAM). Her goal was to fill a moving truck with toys and she did just that. This year, she is raising money and taking donations to order paracord and buckles to make paracord bracelets for Soldier's Angels, who will distribute the bracelets to military personnel stationed in the United States and abroad. These paracord bracelets can be used as emergency cordage to make a tourniquet, to pull a comrade out of harm’s way, to build a shelter, and a number of other applications. Bethany has a servant’s heart and she loves helping people. She says her reward for doing all the things she does is making someone feel happy.
Braden Campa, 5th grade, Passmore Elementary School
Braden is the oldest of three children to a single mom. He always helps without complaint. He is the captain of safety patrol at school, which shows huge responsibility and leadership. He helps children from school and always being recognized for it. He recently won the Sherri Coleman award from family service. He is in Garden Club and volunteered to help build a garden for butterflies for the school. He also is in GT and helped with the food school bank donation. He always helps without being asked. Braden recently was accepted into the Anson Jones Stem school. He has had some obstacles, but never has let that stop him. He always volunteers after school to help whatever teacher or club needs it. Braden is the one who goes to school extra early as well to make sure he can help extra with safety patrol or announcements. He is kind and shows that wherever he goes.
Michael Frere, 10th grade, International School of the Americas (ISA)
Michael is always willing to lend a helping hand whenever he is needed. During his time with SOS, Michael has served more than 200 documented hours throughout our community! Michael showed leadership by leading his own Make it Happen project, which created arts and crafts opportunities for students in the SAMMinistries Homeless Shelter. There are children who live there and need opportunities to socialize and engage in fun activities. Michael led a group of students in providing these opportunities and the project was a huge hit! He was also part of a group of students that formed the founding SOS Student Advisory Council, which allows greater student direction of SOS service and travel activities.
Additionally, through SOS, he was also chosen to be a part of a selective group of Student Ambassadors to represent San Antonio in Germany. In Germany, Michael represented San Antonio and Texas well, by acting as an ambassador to our friends and taking the lessons that we learned in Nuremberg back with him to San Antonio. Prior to that, Michael also traveled with SOS to volunteer in Peru, where he helped build a dorm for a rural girls’ school.
Joseph Gonzalez, Senior, Jefferson High School
Joseph has been extremely passionate about mental health and the importance of bringing to light the challenges individuals face and removing the stigma associated with mental health. In October. Joseph coordinated a walk called "Jefferson into Light". Through this event, Joseph helped participants see that just like the night skies eventually bring us light from the sun, we should take comfort in knowing that the darkness that come from the challenges of life will eventually be overcome and lightness will come. He also highlighted the importance of relying on a support system to help when one is in need. This event was extremely powerful, so he is now working on coordinating it on a larger scale - SAISD into Light. We will be inviting students from across the district to come together and show support for one another. This event will take place in place in honor of Mental Health Awareness month. Joseph is one of the most humble, genuine, and selfless students.
Julia Guzman, Junior, Medina Valley High School
Julia is a well-rounded student who takes time out of her busy schedule to serve others. Beyond her different roles in student government and volleyball, she is very involved in FFA and 4-H. In 4-H she is Castroville's President, Medina County President, District 10 3rd Vice President, and she is a Healthy Texas Youth Ambassador. As a Healthy Texas Youth Ambassador, she has made state education presentations on mental health, sex trafficking and health and nutrition. She has worked alongside the school counselors to raise mental health awareness and provide resources to students. She is working on fundraisers for next year to bring the issues of mental health to the forefront at her high school.
Julia also organized a supply drive for the recent fires in Medina County, making sure the firefighters and first responders had sufficient drinking water and food during their long battles. She has organized other drives for clothing, toys and shoes for the children placed at Children's Bluebonnet shelter in Medina County. Last, but certainly not least, Julia is working with the city council to build a memorial for all of those in the Medina County community who have been lost to COVID-19. Julia is a student that is truly a servant leader that puts others before herself always.
Madison Harden, 8th grade, Floresville Middle School
Madison Harden is a giving child and has held a bracelet fundraiser to raise funds to purchase items for the local Children's Advocacy Center and to purchase items for the local Floresville Food Pantry.
Madison held a coat and winter gear drive to help the children of the Floresville ISD that were needing coats during our winter weather. During school breaks, Madison gives time to the Floresville Food Pantry by donating food items, packaging and distributing food to those who are in need in our community.
Something else that is near and dear to Madison's heart is the local veteran's home. Madison's Birthday is on Veterans Day. November 11th, so she likes to share her special day with those who have served our great country by delivering hand written cards and cupcakes not only on Veterans Day, but Valentine's Day and Easter also. She looks forward to bringing them more cheer in the coming months.
Madison is an "A" Honor Roll student in all advanced classes, a member and Treasurer of the National Junior Honor Society, Treasurer of The School Student Council, plays the clarinet in the Honors Band, member of the 8th grade Volleyball team and a cheerleader on the school cheer squad. Madison also plays club volleyball outside of school. Madison is giving of her time when it allows and where it is needed.
Aeris McLeland, 5th grade, Lone Star Academy at Roscoe
Aeris has Autism along with a long list of disabilities. She started delivering food to elderly neighbors when the pandemic hit and has continued to do so as the years have passed. She made more than 80 care bags for our homeless community members and has a Facebook page dedicated to sharing resources and free things & food to our community and even helps out by restocking local food pantries with food. She loves what she does!
Caleb Trevino, 3rd grade, Brooks Collegiate Academy
Caleb Trevino demonstrates leadership, kindness and helps others. Since August 2021, while attending Brooks Collegiate Academy After School Care Bear Program, Caleb has taken upon himself to help one a 3rd grade special needs student with disabilities. Caleb will read to this child and he walks this student while holding him by the elbow or shoulder through the line to get snack and water. Caleb will guide him to the 3rd grade line, as they walk to and from the playground and restroom. During playground time, Caleb will save a swing for this child. When others have tried to trick this student and take away the swing, Caleb helps him get it back. His leadership and kindness has been an example to other third graders to step forward and help this student when Caleb is not present in aftercare. This 3rd grader demonstrates the qualities of leadership, kindness, the initiative in helping others, standing for the rights of others, and leading others to serve those who need help.
Abigail Villarreal, 10th grade, Thomas Jefferson High School
Abigail is an advocate for the rare disease community because she is an individual with a rare disease called phenylketonuria, PKU. Abigail's goal is to bring awareness to the public about the rare disease community and the struggles faced by patients in their daily lives; she also educates the public about the importance of newborn screens at birth and speaks with children to encourage them to be accepting of their peers that are different from them. Abigail also reached out to many businesses and community members and asked them to participate in a recent #LightUpForRare campaign. The campaign aims to unite the rare disease community across the globe and symbolically break the isolation cause by the recent pandemic.
Abigail has received a proclamation from the City of Balcones Heights, Texas and two certificates from the City of San Antonio - Municipal Government, one from Councilman Mario Bravo with City Council District 1 office and the other from Councilwoman Ana Sandoval with City Council District 7 office, both recognizing her efforts and demonstrating her leadership to bring awareness to the rare disease community.