When Armed Services YMCA announced the winners of the annual Art & Essay Contest, we couldn’t wait to find out how the winners and their families responded to the news. We had so many wonderful and heartfelt entries -- available for download here -- and it was very tough narrowing those down to the winners. How would the winners and their families react?
The reactions, of course, included surprise and excitement. Essay winner Grant Peterson, 11, found out he won in this video his mom, Wendi Peterson, shared with us. She also attached this note. “I don’t think the video does justice for how excited and thrilled Grant was at finding out he won…. He has been grinning ever since. This has been a real confidence booster for him, too. Thank you again for this wonderful opportunity!”
The reactions to winning the contest also included something else – gratitude.
Rebecca Badillo, mom of Sophia Badillo, shared the photo of her daughter, 12, who won for her amazing artwork.
“I told Sophia we were all going to take a picture outside in front of the flag, then we stepped back after I gave her the tablet so we could capture the moment. It was very exciting for all of us to watch Sophia scroll down the ASYMCA website and see her artwork listed. She looked up with the same questioning and excited face as I told her about [getting notified] earlier that morning confirming she had won the contest for the Marine Corps. Then my very proud husband sent the link to family so they could congratulate her as well.
“The ASYMCA has been pivotal in creating moments of connection in Sophia's life. When her dad was deployed, we received our 'Daddy Blankets' from Operation Kid Comfort. The blankets were an item we could use at home and take with us on the road. The photo of her dad giving her a hug was always in front of her. When he came home, they danced the night away at the Father/Daughter dances. It was their time to reconnect and create lifetime memories. Though we do not have an ASYMCA in our area now, we have kept connected through the website to see how we can encourage our kids. The [Art & Essay contest] has been a wonderful opportunity as others saw value in her artwork. We are thankful for your presence in our community and deeply hope your outreach can extend to help more families.”
One of the topics commonly cited in essay contest was the impact of moving. Shannon and Tim Myers, parents of essay winner Brayden Myers, 14, reinforced that when sharing their reaction to Brayden’s win. Brayden wrote about the challenges of moving every few years.
“We are approaching Brayden’s 7th move next week. The Armed Services YMCA essay contest was a perfectly timed opportunity for him to consider and give a true reflection of his experiences, rewards, and challenges related to being a military child. I believe it was also a medium for him to thoughtfully express the pride he feels toward our lifestyle and service.”
We know this contest is another way we help support the military family.
Or as essay winner John Kliethermes, 7, said: "The ASYMCA loves kids!"
The Armed Services YMCA is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit that serves active duty military members and their families. The mission of the Armed Services YMCA is to enhance the lives of military members and their families in spirit, mind, and body through programs relevant to the unique challenges of military life.