Mallory Fundora, 16, of Clarksville and Wills McAdams, 14, of Murfreesboro today were named Tennessee’s top two youth volunteers of 2017 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism. As State Honorees, Mallory and Wills each will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip in early May to Washington, D.C., where they will join the top two honorees from each of the other states and the District of Columbia for four days of national recognition events. During the trip, 10 students will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2017.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 22nd year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).

Middle Level State Honoree: Wills McAdams

Nominated by Central Magnet School in Murfreesboro

Wills, an eighth-grader at Central Middle School, has volunteered at a local Veterans Administration facility twice a week for five hours a day over the past two summers. Wills says he was motivated by his mother, who was always “bugging me, telling me about the pride and respect that comes with volunteering,” along with his older brother, who also volunteered for the VA. At first Wills was skeptical about the idea, but “now I am a firm believer that volunteering can change your perspective,” he said.

Wills’ volunteering took place in the VA’s physical therapy department. There, he worked with a physical therapist and nurse to help patients exercise and stretch. He also pushed wheelchairs and cleaned the work environment. “That might not seem like a lot, but when you are doing it over and over, multiple times during the day, it can be hard work,” said Wills. He added that soon after, his duties didn’t seem like work at all. “Many outsiders see veterans as stereotypical crazy old people who go insane after service. That is not at all the case,” he said. “I loved the patients I worked with. They make the work I was doing into fun that I enjoyed.”