FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Interviews available upon request
Donna M. Autuori
Autuori Corporate Communications, Inc.
Norfolk, VA, January 31, 2011 - After what was a very difficult decision to make on behalf of Beliefnet’s readers and editors, the votes have been tallied and the winners of Beliefnet’s 2010 “Most Inspiring Person of the Year” have been announced.
The Reader’s Choice Award winner is Joshua Williams, a nine year-old boy from Miami Beach, Florida, who is fighting hunger in his own community, having raised over $80,000 and founded a food bank that has distributed over 300,000 pounds of food to date.
“There’s a lot of people and they don’t look healthy,” said Joshua. “So I want to help them more and keep helping more and more people. They’re not as fortunate as we are so I want to help them.”
Joshua, a Sodexo Foundation’s 2010 STOP Hunger Scholarship Recipient, started his humanitarian nonprofit organization called Joshua’s Heart when he was just five years old; inspired to do so after watching a Feed The Children infomercial.
The Editor’s Choice Award winner is Maddie Babineau, a twelve-year old girl from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, who raised thousands of dollars for African children living in poverty, before losing her own battle with cancer. Maddie, as a terminally-ill child, used funds provided by the Children’s Wish Foundation that were intended for her benefit to instead help others. She asked that her money, $6,500, instead be donated to build a school for children in African. Her generous deed is helping 45 boys and girls in Enelerai, Africa receive a better education along with hope for a better future.
Maddie’s mother, Sharon Babineau, is continuing her daughter’s legacy through M.A.D. 4 Maddie, which raises money and awareness for humanitarian efforts in Africa. Of Maddie, her mother said, “Maddie made a difference in life, and she’s still making a difference around the world.”
Through its annual “Most Inspiring Person of the Year” award program, Beliefnet (www.beliefnet.com), the Web’s leading multi-faith inspiration and spirituality site and a property of BN Media (Norfolk,VA), gives recognition to individuals who have demonstrated significant courage, compassion, forgiveness, and/or self-sacrifice in the face of challenging circumstances. The Reader’s Choice Award winner is selected based on the popular vote, while the Editor’s Choice Award winner is made by Beliefnet’s editorial staff.
The 2010 field of competitors was especially fierce with candidates who had faced tremendous adversity and prevailed such as the 33 survivors of the August 5, 2010 Chilean Mining accident who spent a record 69 days underground waiting to be rescued. There was also Philippe Croizon, a man who swam across the English Channel after losing his arms and legs in a tragic accident. Another especially compelling nominee was Ryan Arnold (Watertown, SD), who donated a portion of his liver to help save the life of his brother, Chad Arnold (Castle Rock, OR), and died in the heroic act.
Also inspiring was nominee Darius Nall (Douglasville, GA), University of Central Florida (Orlando, FL), football player and cancer survivor, who inspires his teammates with his positive attitude and contagious enthusiasm.
Other nominees demonstrated the spirit of compassion and generosity such as Al Barsema (Rockford, IL), founder of Carpenter’s Place, a homeless shelter that also provides tools for rebuilding lives; and actress Alyssa Milano (Los Angeles, CA), who uses social networking and her celebrity status to raise awareness and money for several different causes; and Linda Fondren (Vicksburg, MS), a health activist who inspired her hometown to lose more than 15,000 pounds.
According BN Media President/CEO Stephen Halliday, “These inspiring individuals present the best sides of humanity: courage, compassion and heartfelt consideration for their fellow man. We applaud each one of them and aspire to live up to the ideals they have so fully embraced.”
This year’s award program was sponsored by Liberty Mutual (www.libertymutual.com), a diversified global insurer and fifth largest property and casualty insurer in the U.S. based on 2009 direct written premium.
Beliefnet, a property of BN Media (Norfolk, VA) and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for General Excellence Online, is the largest multi-faith online community for spirituality and inspiration. Its mission is to help people find and walk a spiritual path that instills comfort, hope, clarity, strength and happiness for people who are exploring their own faith or curious about others. Beliefnet is the definitive source of spiritual information presented without defined editorial point-of-view, and is a leading authority for major news organizations in the United States. It covers an exhaustive range of topics and is continually enhanced by its users. Resources include blogs and social networking tools, feature articles and videos, quizzes, devotionals, photo galleries and interviews with noted politicians, celebrities and spiritual leaders. Beliefnet has more than 14 million newsletter subscribers and averages nearly three million unique visitors per month. Beliefnet is not affiliated with any spiritual organization or movement.