Students honored at Amazing Kids gala
Oregon has no shortage of kids challenging themselves to make a difference in the world. On Monday, April 29, a total of 28 of them — including a St. Helens teen — were honored during Pamplin Media Group's annual Amazing Kids banquet, held at the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry.
Dr. Robert Pamplin, founder and owner of Pamplin Media Group, opened Monday's event by urging students to realize their potential and to continue on their path of giving back to society.
"There's no problem that can't be solved, it just hasn't been solved yet," Pamplin told the more than two dozen teens sitting before him, many with their families.
Many of this year's Amazing Kids, like Beaverton's Rishab Jain, already are manifesting that.
Jain, a Stoller Middle School eighth-grader, has made national headlines for his scientific work developing tools for the medical field. Last year, he landed on Time Magazine's list of 25 most influential teens. He also earned $25,000 in the Discovery Education and 3M Young Scientist Challenge for his work using artificial intelligence and physiology that could provide hope for better pancreatic cancer screening and treatment.
While some of the students recognized Monday were honored for their efforts to pioneer the future, others were noted for showing resiliency in the face of extreme adversity and trauma, or for giving back to their peers and community through volunteer service.
Teens like Hikmat Bittar have endured more than most may ever encounter in their lifetime.
Bittar, a student in Gresham, is a Syrian war refugee whose family escaped an armed militia before seeking freedom in the United States.
After their home was ruined by a battering ram, Bittar and his family were locked in a room for three days, stuck in the middle of wartime activity before being let go and fleeing by taxi.
When he got to Gresham, he had to deal with prejudice for being Middle Eastern, Bittar told a reporter. Now, the student works a part-time job to support his family, maintains a high grade-point average, and coaches at his school's math club.
Mikaela Bjorn also knows a thing or two about overcoming obstacles and trauma. Last year, the Colton girl lost her younger sister in a tragic drowning accident. The avid 4-H volunteer organized a daddy-daughter dance to raise funds for community swim lessons for local preschool children.
Abby Marx, of St. Helens, was recognized for her giving spirit, active involvment in community service, promoting education and opportunties for women in STEM fields and positive attitude through it all.
Marx has also worked with the Thirst Project charity to help provide global access to clean water. Her story can be found on page 55 in the special section included in this week's Spotlight.
"Believe in yourself, contribute to society, and most important, never, ever quit," Pamplin told the youths. "Keep trying, keep pushing."
Monday's Amazing Kids event was emceed by Rebecca Marshall of KXL Radio and Dan Tilkin of KOIN 6 News.
"The reason you're changing the world is you're doing things differently than we did them," Tilkin said before helping introduce each student.
Amazing Kids is made possible through sponsorships and partnerships with businesses and organizations like Scappoose Industrial Airpark/Transwestern Aviation, Sen. Betsy Johnson, Coastal Farm and Ranch, BiMart, OMSI, Clackamas Community College and others.
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