Many of our Catholic schools encourage their eighth grade students to submit essays for the annual America & Me contest. This statewide contest was founded in 1968 by Farm Bureau Insurance and for over 50 years, more than 500,000 eighth graders from hundreds of Michigan schools have entered the writing contest.
This year, Farm Bureau Insurance asked students to write inspirational stories honoring someone who has personally made a difference in their lives - a Michigan Hero. Simon Kelly, eighth grader at Holy Trinity Catholic School in Comstock Park, knew immediately who he would write about - his grandpa, also known as “Pops.”
In his essay, Simon explained why he chose his grandpa as his hero. “Someone who is very inspiring in my life is my grandpa,” he writes. “What is most important is his love for God and others. He goes to church every Sunday, and if my grandma can’t go (mainly in the winter), he will always bring back the Host [the Eucharist] for her.”
Pops is Dave Hastings, co-founder of the non-profit, Lori's Voice, which he and his wife, Lori, founded in 2011. Its mission is to assist children with disabilities providing tools that will enhance their lives and just let them be kids.
Simon’s moving and heartfelt essay was one of the top ten selected as statewide winners. And the prize for the America & Me contest was a one-of-a-kind Michigan adventure this past weekend!
Simon traveled to Lansing to meet Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist, along with the nine other essay winners. After the meeting, Simon and his fellow prize winners had dinner and took a ride on the luxurious Princess riverboat. Simon received a $1,000 check and another $1,000 was awarded to Holy Trinity, as well. Finally, they attended a Lansing Lugnuts game and got to play ball on the field. All of these activities were so exciting for Simon, but his favorite thing about it all? He got to bring Pops, his Michigan hero, along on all of these adventures.