Stevens Point student becomes finalist for national award - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Stevens Point student becomes finalist for national award

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STEVENS POINT (WAOW) - Rachel Ley may look like an ordinary high school student, but her volunteering has made her a finalist for a national award.

She started volunteering at a young age when she saw her classmates had trouble reading.

"As a fifth and sixth grader, I had a couple students in my class that would get pulled out of class on a regular basis to get reading help," said Ley.

She wanted to change that. So, she did some research.

"There's a strong correlation between being read to as an infant and your reading success in the future," said Ley.

She started collecting books for parents to read to their newborns. It started at Saint Michael's Hospital in Stevens Point. Now, she sends thousands of books all over the world.

"Four hospitals in Wisconsin, one in Minnesota and one in Nicaragua,” said Ley. “So we provide book packages to every family that has a newborn child."

She's won many local awards for her work. But her principal at SPASH heard about the Prudential Spirit of Community Award, a national award for volunteering. He decided to give her an application.

"I applied in November and kind of just waited, and at school this week Mr. Vine called me in the office and told me I had received the state bronze medal which is super exciting," said Ley.

Now she's a finalist. But she says it's not about the recognition. She hopes her efforts will inspire others to give back too.

"From when I was volunteering at a young age through violin, the goal was to always make someone smile and I think that's still the same for me.” said Ley. “To make someone smile and to do something that's really impacting someone else."

Rachel says she's not sure when she'll find out if she advances in the competition. She hopes it will be in the next few months.

The top ten finalists will attend a banquet in Washington D.C. in May.

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