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Posted: 04/10/13

Bruce Twp teen receives
Congressional Award

by CHRIS GRAY
Observer Staff Writer
      A Bruce Township teen has earned a medal from Congress after proving his mettle to improve himself.
       Elijah Hicks, 17, was given a bronze medal Congressional Award by U.S. Rep. Candice Miller on April 4 for completing challenges of service and ambition.
       The award is provided annually by the Congressional Award Foundation, a public-private partnership established in 1979 to promote service, initiative and achievement in youths.
       Anyone ages 14 to 23 can earn the award by applying and achieving goals in four areas: Voluntary public service, personal development, physical fitness and expedition/exploration. Awardees are given a gold, silver or bronze medal depending on whether they meet certain requirements with their goals.
       Hicks said the toughest goal for him was physical fitness, which he decided would be improving his time for running a mile. He said he surpassed his original goal by trimming his time down to seven minutes and 50 seconds.
       "I didn't do it much before, that's why it was hard to get myself to do it," he said. "It was very cool, I made my goal and it felt very good."
       Hicks and his father, Joe, took a two-day, one-night hiking trip through the Huron National Forest in July for his exploration. He said they endured harsh summer heat and even encountered a snake, all while only using the supplies they brought.
       "It was very cool being out there with my dad, and the forest was very empty," Hicks said. "I had never done anything like that before, it was very different."
       For public service, Hicks donated more than 100 hours of service at the Samaritan House. His personal development came in the form of studying how to raise chickens as well as creating shelves for an herb box.
       He said he was inspired to try out for the award after seeing his neighbor going for it, and encourages others to go for it as well.
       "It's a really awesome opportunity to push yourself to the limits," he said.
       Not counting the exploration, a bronze medal requires a total of 200 hours of invested time over a span of seven months. Hicks said he was excited to have received the medal after putting in the effort.
       "It feels very good, it's like a culmination of all the events," he said.
       Miller said it takes a lot of work and commitment to earn the award, and Hicks was definitely deserving of it.
       "It really speaks to the character, particularly at that young age for someone to have that kind of dedication to see it through," she said. "Having that tenacity is, I think, a strength that will help a person like that through their entire life."
       Miller said Hicks' volunteering with Samaritan House stood out to her, as her offices have worked with the non-profit food pantry in the past.
       Hick's family was all smiles as they watched him receive his medal, including his mother, Cheryl.
       "We're just really proud of him for completing it and sticking to his goals and persevering until the end," she said.
       Hicks said he is thinking of pursuing public safety when he is finished with school.


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