Hazel Green native named Young Heroes Award winner

Hazel Green native named Young Heroes Award winner
Devique McWilliams (left), Aidan Mills (left center), Denver Benjamin (right center) and Andrew Walker (right) attended the Young Heroes Awards Banquet Wednesday. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Five nominees from across the state were up for the title of "Young Heroes 2018" and one was also honored as a winner of another distinguished award. Devique Williams from Mobile, Denver Sha-Vonne Benjamin from Cherokee, Brie Evans from Trinity, Andrew T. Walker from Florence and Aidan Olivia Mills from Hazel Green, were the nominees.

The Young Heroes award is sponsored by Alabama Public Television.

Each nominee uses hardships they've experienced in their individual lives to better their communities.

Devique Williams has battled meningitis since he was only six years old, but he did not let that stop him. Williams is a member of his school's NJROTC and visits churches, nursing homes, colleges and helps with community projects through his fraternity Alpha Elites.

Denver Benjamin was diagnosed with lupus in the eighth grade, and suffered a stroke as a sophomore in high school and as a result, she had to relearn many abilities and tasks like walking, bathing, talking and feeding. Since then, Benjamin has made a full recovery and even participates in many school clubs and activities like volleyball, cheerleading, basketball and softball, while also acting as president of the Student Council at her high school. Benjamin wants to attend college and pursue a career as a neonatal nurse.

Brie Evans did not attend the banquet Wednesday but she was still honored. Evans overcame hardships in her home as her parents divorced while she was only 2 years old. Evans grew up to become an outstanding student and is a member of several of her school's clubs while helping out in her community at her church's Vacation Bible School. Evans is slowly working towards rebuilding her relationship with her father, and wants to attend college and pursue a career as a veterinarian.

Andrew Walker is a senior at Florence High School and has wanted to be an electrical engineer since he was seven. He has placed tops in several Vex Robotics competitions. His robotics achievements are impressive as Walker battles with Tourette Syndrome. He works in the 12 for Life program which helps students gain extra motivation to finish 12 years of school and to enjoy better lives.

Aidan Mills has battled the odds since she was young. At 3 years old, she suffered a seizure that left her unresponsive. Last June, Mills was on a bus with students from her church that had plans to travel to Africa, when the bus was involved in a crash that killed one of her friends and injured nearly everyone else on board. Mills herself suffered a broken arm, severe concussion and a dislocated jaw. In the wake of that tragedy light was brought to Mills' The 13:13 Project inspired by the Bible's 1 Corinthians 13:13 verse that reads, "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." The project aims to be able to provide toiletry items for hospitals to give families in times of crisis. She was inspired by what her parents went through when Mills suffered her seizure.

According to the program, each of the nominees was presented with a scholarship for their work.

Mills was named the Young Heroes award winner as well as the Marissa Feigelson Award Winner. Feigelson was a member of the first class of Young Heroes and passed away from leukemia in 2001. The award is given to the recipient that best exemplifies exceptional work in the community.

Mills received an additional scholarship as she was recognized as the winner of the Marissa Feigelson award.

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