Operation Homefront Announces Recipients for 2016 Military Child of the Year® Award

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Each Deserving Young Patriot Receives $10,000

Operation Homefront today announced the six recipients of the 2016 Military Child of the Year® Award. The national non-profit organization that builds strong, stable, and secure military families annually gives the award to an outstanding military child from each branch of service – Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and the National Guard.

Each award recipient will receive $10,000 and will be flown with a parent or guardian to Washington, D.C., for a special recognition gala on April 14. United Technologies Corp. is the presenting sponsor for the Military Child of the Year® Awards Gala. Other sponsors are Wounded Warrior Project, Southern New Hampshire University, Murphy-Goode Winery, MidAtlanticBroadband, La Quinta Inns & Suites, and Aflac. Operation Homefront will also present the inaugural Booz Allen Hamilton Innovation Award for Military Children at the gala, the recipient of which will be announced next week.

Ideal candidates for the Military Child of the Year® Award demonstrate resilience and strength of character, and thrive in the face of the challenges of military life. They also demonstrate leadership within their families and within their communities.

“The children in our military families demonstrate the best in our society and our Military Child of the Year® Award recipients are extraordinary representatives of this spirit of selfless service,” said Brig Gen (ret) John I. Pray, Jr., president and CEO of Operation Homefront. “They perform at a very high level both in and out of school while simultaneously dealing with parental deployments, recurring relocations, and other challenges associated with military life. I can’t wait to meet these outstanding young people and present them with their well-deserved awards.”

Following are the 2016 Military Child of the Year® Award recipients.

Lorelei McIntyre-Brewer, 11
Duncannon, Pa.

Lorelei aspires to be a writer. Her own story has been as compelling as any topic she might choose. The daughter of Michelle McIntyre-Brewer and Medical Service Corps Officer Steven Brewer, Lorelei was missing half her heart before she was born. She underwent open heart surgery shortly after her birth. Indeed, the Duncannon, Pennsylvania, resident has undergone 18 medical procedures, including three open heart surgeries. Lorelei also heightened awareness of conditions such as hers through the Congenital Heart Information Network. She has been involved in Socks for Vets, started by her brother Cavan, who was the 2015 Army Military Child of the Year winner. Lorelei collected goods and helped to train and to care for those who would deliver the goods to veterans. She made the time to participate in the Girl Scouts and in 4-H.

Christian Fagala, 10
Quantico, Virginia

The son of Diana Fagala and Marine Capt. Justin Fagala, Christian, 9-years-old at the time of his nomination, was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 2. He was treated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. He had a harder time learning due to the cognitive effects of chemotherapy but rose to the advanced reading level and otherwise exceeded academic expectations. Christian has relocated four times already and has endured 16 months of his father’s deployment. Rising to the challenges of military life, Christian at age 4 began doing speaking engagements on behalf of childhood cancer programs. Christian started his own campaign for Childhood Cancer Awareness, and he participates in numerous annual walks to raise money for the cause. Christian has raised more than $20,000 in the last few years for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Christian additionally has devoted more than 100 hours to homeless outreach, participating in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts along the way.

Jeffrey Burds, 17
Camp Lejeune, North Carolina

Jeffrey was 9 years old when his mother succumbed to colon cancer. The day before she passed, his mother told him, “Do great things in life.” It is apparent that this son of Debra Rae Burds and Navy Master Chief Hospital Corpsman Joseph Burds took to those words to heart, devoting his life to making a difference in the lives of others. He is distinguished, above all, by his leadership and by his academic excellence. Posting a 3.94 grade point average, Jeffrey is a National Honor Society volunteer and executive officer of the Camp Lejeune High School Marine Corps JROTC, the boot camp of which he was named an honor graduate in 2013.

AIR FORCE                     
Madeleine Morlino, 17
Moorestown, New Jersey                

Madeleine was adopted from China when she was 11 months old. Believing fervently that her family made her life better than it would have been had she remained in China, Madeleine has devoted her life to keeping America and her community strong. Motivated by the challenges her family faced as her father transitioned from military to civilian life, Madeleine set out to ease the transition for other service members. She conceived, organized and led a job expo for veterans in her hometown. She and her colleagues on the committee that planned the event successfully attracted national and local businesses that were poised to offer veterans meaningful employment. A future U.S. Air Force Academy cadet, with a 4.23 weighted grade point average, Madeleine is the daughter of Kerry Ann Morlino and retired Air Force Master Sgt. Leonard Morlino.

Keegan Fike, 17
Fairhaven, Massachusetts

The son of Rebecca Fike and Coast Guard Lt. Brent Fike, Keegan has been active in the Boy Scouts, including, but certainly not limited to, organizing food drives – leading, emceeing, or otherwise participating in flag-retirement ceremonies, and mentoring Cub Scouts and junior Boy Scouts as an assistant scoutmaster. As a junior assistant scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 52, Keegan earned the Cachalot Youth Leadership Award of Merit for his participation in the 2014 summer camp, leading boys from three different troops. He also scheduled activities and led training sessions on fire safety, geocaching, flag etiquette, and other instruction. Keegan has seen 125 months of his father’s deployment and has experienced six military permanent change of station relocations.

John “Trip” Landon III, 17
Ellensburg, Washington

A National Honor Society member with a 3.9 grade point average, Trip is homeschooled for academics and participates in extracurricular activities at Ellensburg High School in Ellensburg, Washington. Guided by his faith, the son of Laura Landon and Army National Guard Capt. John Landon II has excelled in academics, sports, Scouting, the arts, and faith-based service to his community. Trip has made his mark in Scouting. As a Silver Palm-awarded Eagle Scout, Trip, who achieved the coveted rank of Eagle Scout before his 15th birthday, led four teenagers and four adults in planning and constructing an archery range backstop, a project that entailed 574 man hours. Trip aspires to work in prosthetics engineering, a career path which would allow him to help wounded warriors to return to service.

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EDITORIAL NOTE: Photos of the award recipients are available by contacting Aaron.Taylor(at)OperationHomefront.net or Stephen.Thomas(at)OperationHomefront.net.

About Operation Homefront: A national nonprofit, Operation Homefront leads more than 2,500 volunteers with nationwide presence who provide emergency and other financial assistance to the families of service members and wounded warriors. Operation Homefront has provided assistance to thousands of military families since its inception in 2002. Recognized for superior performance by leading independent charity watchdog groups, nationally, 92 percent of Operation Homefront’s expenditures go directly to programs that provide support to our military families. For more information, go to http://www.OperationHomefront.net.

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