• REEL KIDS 2013

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  • 9th - 12th Grade Winners     2013


HTC REEL Kids 2013

On Thursday, May 23, HTC honored 50 Horry County Schools’ students during the 13th Annual REEL Kids Awards at the Marina Inn at Grande Dunes.  These 50 students have proven themselves through
scholastic, athletic and community achievements in the face of recent obstacles or extenuating circumstances and have been recognized by their schools as winners of the HTC REEL Kids
(Recognizing Extraordinary Examples of Leadership) award.

HTC invited Jessica Cox, the first armless person in aviation history to earn a pilot’s certificate, to be the special guest speaker at this year's ceremony.  Born without arms, Jessica Cox could have succumbed to the low expectations that ushered her into this world.  In spite of them all, she earned two black belts in Taekwondo, graduated from college, and learned to swim, drive a car, fly an airplane, surf, scuba dive, and live independently using her feet in ways others who take their hands for granted can only imagine.  She holds the title of the first person without arms to get a black belt in the American Taekwondo Association and the Guinness World Record for the first pilot to fly with her feet.  Yet, her greatest triumph in life stands far above any physical feat.  It is her unrepentant regard for herself as a whole person, her high degree of self-acceptance that gives her freedom and power to insist that society accept her, too, just as she is.

All HTC REEL Kids received a copy of Jessica Cox’s video.  Prior to the special guest presentation by Jessica Cox, HTC awarded medals to each winner for their accomplishments.  The Meagan Conner Award and Taylor McKinney Award for Courage winners were also announced.

Jessica_CoxJessica Cox

Read Jessica Cox's Bio >>

See the listings & photos of all the 2013 HTC REEL Kids by clicking on the links below:

Meagan Conner Award
During the first season of HTC REEL Kids, Meagan Conner, Loris High School's REEL Kid, was battling cancer. It was a battle she lost just four months after the REEL Kids luncheon. Her story touched everyone that year and we continue to pay tribute to her life by honoring one REEL Kid each year with this award.

A special committee selects one outstanding REEL Kid who made a lasting impression at the time of the interview, a REEL Kid who displays strong character, determination and perseverance. The objective of the Meagan Conner award is not to choose a student based on the severity of the obstacle, but rather the strength of their character, the degree of their determination, and the duration of their perseverance.

Gabriella Papamichael2013 Meagan Conner Award Winner -
Gabriella Papamichael,
Myrtle Beach High School

Taylor McKinney Award for Courage
In 2005, Waccamaw Elementary teachers, Dawn Haithcock and Sandy Drose nominated 4th grader, Taylor McKinney, to represent their school as an HTC REEL Kid. Taylor battled leukemia from the time she was five years old and endured several bone marrow transplants to survive. Although she was in remission for several years, on October 4, 2005, she passed away.

HTC and Waccamaw Elementary made the decision to honor Taylor McKinney with the award posthumously. In honor of this courageous young lady, HTC has created a new REEL Kid award. This award will be presented to a REEL Kid only in the most extraordinary of situations; a case in which courage overcomes fear and a REEL Kid emerges.

Candace Baker2013 Taylor McKinney Award for Courage - Candace Baker, Aynor High School

Omega Phones Scholarship
Once again, the owners of an outside company, Omega Phones, continued their support of our REEL Kids program – so much, that they again presented a check to be awarded to one senior REEL Kid based on perceived need for monetary assistance for higher education. The $2,000 scholarship was awarded to Kendra Jackson, a graduating senior from the Academy for Arts, Science & Technology.


Kendra Jackson2013 Omega Phones Scholarship Winner -
Kendra Jackson, Academy for Arts, Science & Technology

Horry-Georgetown Technical College President's Scholarship
This year, Horry Georgetown Technical College offered Presidential Scholarships for two HTC REEL kids who have committed to attend HGTC. The REEL Kids selected were Gabriella Papamichael, a senior at Myrtle Beach High School, and Benjamin Taylor, a senior at North Myrtle Beach High School.  The students will receive $500 per semester.


Benjamin Taylor2013 HGTC Presidential Scholarship Winner -
Benjamin Taylor,
North Myrtle Beach High School

Gabriella Papamichael2013 HGTC Presidential Scholarship Winner -
Gabriella Papamichael,
Myrtle Beach High School

Since 2001, HTC has confirmed a local connection to the community by hosting the HTC REEL Kids
program to honor students who may otherwise be overlooked.  These students are worthy of recognition
for their outstanding leadership qualities that have helped them through special circumstances.  All
schools in Horry County, grades primary through 12th, were encouraged to participate by nominating an extraordinary student, and for the tenth year, all Horry County Schools are represented. “When we receive
the nominations from the schools and read about the trials these young people have endured, we are humbled,” said Mike Hagg, HTC Chief Executive Officer.  “These REEL Kids have struggled through
physical disabilities, learning disabilities, and loss of loved ones, disease, emotional problems, abuse, abandonment and so much more.  The most remarkable fact is that the REEL Kids have overcome what some would have seen as stumbling blocks.”  The HTC REEL Kids program began in the fall of 2000 and was created to recognize one student per school who has overcome a significant obstacle in their life.  Guidance counselors were asked to nominate these students and one child from each school in Horry County was awarded the HTC REEL Kids award.  The nomination form also asked the counselor to
describe how the nominee has proven him/herself through scholastic, athletic and community
achievements in the face of obstacles or extenuating circumstances. 
The guidance counselor and principal signed off on the information provided, and the parent/guardian
gave permission for all personal and academic information to be released publicly by HTC in its efforts to recognize and describe award winners for this honor.   

As part of becoming an HTC REEL Kid, each child along with his/her teacher, principal or guidance counselor was interviewed for an HTC REEL Kids segmentthat airs each week during the local talk show, RiverTalk.  Each child’s inspiring story of overcoming adversity was shared during the interview. 

“The REEL Kids program is one way HTC connects with the community and is always a highlight of the
year for us at HTC.  We are amazed at the amount of maturity these children possess and can see how tough times have made them stronger.  During the interviews, the REEL Kids give advice to those who are going through difficult situations and urge others above all to never give up,” continued Hagg.

HTC is proud to help share these inspirational stories with the community. For more information
concerning the HTC REEL Kids Awards, please contact Nicole Hyman, HTC Senior Marketing Coordinator,
at 369-8498 or 902-3838.


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