Jessica Bonnett of West Monroe has had both a colostomy and an ileostomy, a tumor on her spine and the tragedy of doctors mistakenly removing her healthy kidney during an operation to take out her diseased kidney. Her physical problems have not stopped her being an active Girl Scout, participating in the Positive Forces Counseling network for disturbed teens and volunteering with the Ouachita Parish Animal Shelter and the Animal Hospital.
William Dunckelman has a 4.0 grade point average and is a tireless fundraiser. After suffering four attacks of shingles, a malady normally associated with older people, William began volunteering at local nursing homes. After surveying nursing homes around the country, he created Project F.A.M. E. (Fine Arts Motivating the Elderly) in 1999 to provide emotional and intellectual stimulation for nursing home residents. In 2003, his efforts also provided $25,000 in toys and clothing for needy children in his community and during the current academic year he has helped raise $1,000 for non-profits.
A brain tumor operation when she was a small child may have slowed Christa Fisher’s cognitive learning skills, but it hasn’t stopped her from compiling a 3.9 grade point average at Hammond High. She belongs to a wide range of clubs at the school and has volunteered more than 100 hours of her time since she was freshman, including many fundraising efforts.
Eddie Jenkins was born with a rare form of Spina Bifida that caused him to be born without the lower part of his spine but being confined to a wheelchair hasn’t slowed him down. He single-handedly organized Walker High’s first Veteran’s Day program, has helped organize food drives for homeless shelters and led the school’s March of Dimes Fund Drive.
Nine-year-old Dane Lantier suffers from a rare degenerative bone disease called Morquio Syndrome. Despite the almost constant pain he suffers, he participates in as many activities as he can, has a 4.0 average and is an inspiration to everyone around him.
Shayla Price is a true hero in every way. When this class valedictorian was 12, she witnessed severe physical domestic violence. At one time, she nursed her mother back to health after she was scalded with boiling water. At Thibodaux High, Shayla has served as Sophomore and Junior Class President and is a member of the Senior Class Executive Board. A National Honor Society member, she helped organize the Bayou Interfaith Service Community Organizing Committee to help the youth in her area and also volunteers at St. Luke’s Catholic Church as a religion teacher.
William Rafferty of Baton Rouge suffers from Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. He takes part in numerous fundraisers for Arthritis Foundation, including speaking at fundraising breakfasts and working on a documentary to help raise awareness about the 700,000 Louisianans who suffer from arthritis. Along with his father, he helped start a free summer camp for children with arthritis.
Christian Michael Sonnier, 16, is a junior at Sulphur High School. Christian Sonnier has a 4.0 average at Sulphur High School. A member of Who’s Who Among American High School Students and National Society of High School Scholars, he participated in the Junior Statesmen of America Summer School at Yale when he was 14. He volunteers for Special Olympics and as a tutor for exceptional children, has traveled to Mexico to minister to the needs of the poor and help build a house for a poor family, and helped found the Back to School Prayer Meeting at Sulphur High.