By Lindsey Ziliak
Tribune staff writer
A 13-year-old Kokomo girl was named one of Indiana’s youth volunteers of the year for her work helping sick children.
Maple Crest Middle School student Courtland Cottle found out Tuesday night that she received the award from Prudential.
It comes with a $1,000 scholarship, a silver medallion and a trip to Washington D.C. for the national awards.
Cottle offered only two words to describe how she felt Wednesday morning.
“I’m happy,” she said, so quietly that she almost couldn’t be heard.
She’s too humble, her teacher and principal said.
It’s a very elite award, teacher Vicki Boles said. Only one middle schooler and one high schooler in the state received it.
Boles said Prudential was looking for unique projects that were well established.
Cottle started her project four years ago when a child her family knew was diagnosed with cancer.
She and her parents went to visit him in the hospital, and that’s how they got introduced to “that whole ugly world,” her mother, Danelle said.
“It’s a whole other world seeing kids going through that,” Danelle said. “Courtland was old enough to realize some of those kids wouldn’t survive. She wanted to do something to help them.”
That year, she gave up her Christmas gifts to help one family.
She did that every year until December 2011.
That Christmas she decided to expand her reach, and collected toys and toiletries to donate to Riley Hospital for Children.
Over the next year, she received support from all over Kokomo and throughout the United States.
Her classmates and her mom’s coworkers rallied together to help her. And her dad’s fellow racers started sending her items, too.
By the end of 2012, she had donated more than 2,000 toys, 2,700 toiletries and $3,000 to Riley.
Danelle Cottle said the total value of her daughter’s donations was somewhere around $37,000.
Boles said Courtland Cottle is a special student.
“Anytime a student initiates a project on her own, that’s golden,” she said. “As caring as Courtland is, she inspires others to do good.”
Other students have started their own projects because of the 13-year-old.
Boles turned to Courtland Cottle and asked her, “It’s fun to give to others isn’t it?”
The girl smiled and nodded.
Maple Crest Principal Katie Reckard said Courtland Cottle deserved this award.
She’s a giving person and a great role model for others, she said.
“She walks down the hallway, and kids, they look up to her,” the principal said.
For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Kokomo Tribune eEdition, or our print edition.