NATIONAL AWARD: Jennifer Vogel, San Dimas, CA
A car wash in the rain aids a wounded soldier's family in Azusa, Calif.
Last spring, the Behee family's world was turned upside down. After Staff Sgt. Jarod Behee, 27, was shot in the head while serving in Iraq, wife Marissa moved across the country to be by his side during his extended treatment. Meanwhile, daughter Madison stayed with her grandparents in California -- and grew to lean on her preschool teacher, Jennifer Vogel. (You can see their bond in the photo at left.)
When Vogel learned that Jarod's family may face financial hardship, she mentioned Jarod's plight to her stepfather. Something clicked: Vogel's stepfather works in a town where utility poles are adorned with yellow ribbons bearing the names of local military personnel. And Jarod's name was on the flag outside his office.
Again by chance, one of her stepdad's co-workers told Vogel about Make A Difference Day, the Saturday set aside to help others.
Vogel decided to raise funds for Jarod's medical expenses. She organized three car washes, enlisting neighbors and volunteers from Sonrise Christian School and Christ's Church of the Valley. "The San Gabriel Valley Tribune" ran announcements about the event. And on Oct. 22, they washed 150 cars -- in drizzling rain. Raised: $6,000.
"The whole thing -- from beginning to end -- was meant to be," she says.
$10,000 Make A Difference Day Award from Paul Newman benefits military families via Christ's Church of the Valley, San Dimas, Calif.