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Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy (JFSLA) Announces Grand Prize Winners of the Second Annual “Choose to Matter” Contest

SAN CLEMENTE, CA—February 28, 2013— Today, in conjunction with National Women’s History MonthJulie Foudy and the Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy (JFSLA) are proud to introduce the grand prize winners of the 2012 JFSLA Choose to Matter Contest: Kate Walner (JFSLA California); Shannon Moran (JFLSA Illinois); Emily Jurcsek (JFSLA New Jersey), Elizabeth and Katie Overberg (Mother/Daughter); and Amber Abernathy (Girl Talk). Thanks to the generous support from Disney Sports Enterprises and The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, these young women (plus a parent/guardian) will join Julie Foudy on an all-expense-paid trip in May 2013 which will include a 4-day, 3-night stay at the Walt Disney World® All-Star Sports Resort; a 3-day park-hopper pass to the Walt Disney World® Theme Parks; and a role as a youth leader at Special Olympics Florida State Summer Games happening at ESPN Wide World of Sports.

Out of the 69 submitted service projects, the winning projects included: raising funds for a safe and accessible baseball field and all-inclusive playground for kids with special needs; hosting book drives for inner city schools; educating kids about diabetes prevention; fundraising to help families fighting cancer; and delivering powerful messages to teens to say no to gun violence.  The JFSLA Choose to Matter Contest celebrates young women who are passionate leaders and empowers them to choose to make a difference in the lives and communities around them.

“Today we celebrate not only the achievements of the contest winners, but recognize and applaud all of the extraordinary young women and mother/daughter teams who created and implemented service projects,” said Julie Foudy, former captain of the USA Women’s Soccer team and founder of JFSLA.  “We are incredibly moved and so proud that they are leaders of action and service. Through JFSLA and the Choose to Matter Contest, these young leaders will inspire more young women to be positive change makers. “

To enter the contest, girls from Julie Foudy’s three Sports Leadership Academies (California, Illinois, and New Jersey), JFSLA partner Girl Talk, as well as mom and daughter teams from across the U.S., were invited to create and implement community service projects.  Projects were submitted online from December 15, 2012 through January 15, 2013. From February 8 through February 15, America voted online for their favorite projects to help determine finalists in each category. A panel of celebrity judges, including Laura Gentile (VP, espnW), Haley Kilpatrick (Founder/ED, Girl Talk), Leslie Kimball (VP, Communications, The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility), Angela Ruggiero (Ice Hockey Olympian), and Julie Foudy chose the grand prize winners based on the following three criteria: 1) understanding of their project issue, 2) innovation and creativity, and 3) impact.

Changing the World. . . One Leadership Project at a Time

Watch Video Message from Julie Foudy

The Grand Prize Winners

Kate Walner (age 14) from Lafayette, CA. (JSFLA California)

o   Kate’s project -- “Boxes, Bags and Bins of Books” -- focused on helping the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) get more library books as Kate knew that lack of supplies in inner city schools is a major problem especially in Oakland.

o   Kate and her JFSLA camp mate, Hannah Wells, organized a book drive in support of three elementary schools: Allendale, Brookfield, and Lafayette.  They collected 1,149 books of all reading levels and genres, providing more than 360 books to each school.

Shannon Moran (age 12) from Wheaton, IL. (JFSLA Illinois)

o   Shannon’s project --“Let’s Kick Diabetes: Games for Change” -- centered on raising money for the American Diabetes Association (ADA), as well as teaching kids about the disease.  Shannon hosted a day of soccer that included a skills contest, pick-up games, a diabetes friendly bake sale and a raffle.  Shannon’s project also included selling rubber bracelets and t-shirts at her school.

o   Shannon raised $5,000 for the ADA and raised $500 for her school to purchase new soccer balls. Through her project, Shannon was able to educate 600 kids about diabetes prevention by speaking to local soccer teams, grade schools and her own school about diabetes prevention and the ADA.

Emily Jurcsek (age 16) from Edison, NJ. (JFSLA New Jersey)

o   Emily’s project -- “Cancer: Let’s Stomp the Monster” -- raised money and awareness about the name and the mission of Stomp the Monster – a 501(c)(3) that puts resources towards activities and responsibilities, such as groceries and child day care, that are often overlooked while a family is fighting cancer.

o   Working with the Metuchen Annual Country Fair Committee, Emily secured a booth, supplies and rallied volunteers.  By engaging fair guests to decorate her booth through $1 donations to color flower and butterfly cutouts in honor of those who were affected by cancer, Emily raised more than $350 for families who were fighting cancer.

Elizabeth (age 9) and Katie Overberg from Ankeny, Iowa (The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility Mother/Daughter Category)

o   The Overberg’s project -- “Fund a Miracle League So All Can Play” -- originally had a goal of raising $500 towards the Ankeny Miracle League (AML), a safe and accessible baseball field and all-inclusive playground for kids with special needs.   The town of Ankeny needs one million dollars to start the AML to serve the more than 800 children in their local schools who have special needs.

o   Elizabeth and Kate exceeded their goal and raised $721.  Katie is hopeful that her friend who has a disability and uses a wheelchair will be able to play.

Amber Abernathy (age 17) from Atlanta, GA. (Girl Talk)

o   Amber’s project -- “All Teens Against Violence”-- was centered on educating teens about gun violence. After losing a family member to gun violence, Amber felt compelled to speak out to middle school students about saying no to violence and to help inspire teens to rise above the problem.  Amber held a non-violence seminar for a group of 50-60 middle school students--most of who were exposed to violent situations at home or surrounded by gang activity.

o   Amber organized speakers to provide students with important information on how to live healthy lives away from violence. Amber also made “All Teens Against Violence” wristbands & goodie bags, so the teens that participated would have a constant reminder to say no to violence.

To read about the runner up and honorable mention awarded projects in each category, plus all the amazing service projects entered in the Choose to Matter Contest, please visit .  Julie and the JFSLA would like to thank Disney Sports and The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility for their support of the contest, as well as Contest media partners: espnW and NBC Bay Area.

Choose to Matter by Saluting the Winners
Follow the JFSLA on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube to help congratulate these incredible women and celebrate their projects. Become a fan of the Choose to Matter Contest, and get updates on the girls in Florida this May 16-19, 2013, along with the latest information on the upcoming 2013 Choose to Matter Contest and 2013 Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academies, by visiting the JFSLA website.

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Media Contacts:

JFSLA: Jennifer Hwang and Dana Young, [email protected], 415-420-3259, 415-378-7998

The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility: Leslie Kimball, [email protected], 202-637-0077

GirlTalk: Jennifer Grizzle, [email protected], 770-409-1152

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