CABOT — One Cabot fifth-grader is making a difference in her community, and she will be recognized for it in the nation’s capital later this year.
Ten-year-old Riley Strube has been recognized as one of top two youth volunteers in Arkansas as part of the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. On April 16, Riley was awarded an engraved silver medallion during an assembly at Cabot Middle School South in recognition of this honor.
Riley volunteers with the I Can! Dance program, which helps students with disabilities learn new steps, follow directions and build confidence. Riley said she helps with the Hokey Pokey and Animal Action dance games.
“It’s just super fun,” she said.
I Can! Dance is a free dance class for children with disabilities, including spina bifida, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and autism. The group has performed at national dance competitions, the Ms. Wheelchair Arkansas pageant, local churches, Christmas parties and dance recitals.
Angeletta Giles’ daughter Londyn has been Riley’s “buddy” at I Can! Dance for three years. Angeletta started bringing Londyn to the dance program when she noticed something was off with her daughter, even before Londyn was diagnosed with autism.
“We were already terrified when we got to the first class,” Angeletta said. “When [Londyn] walked in, she ran straight to Riley, and the rest is history.”
Londyn and Riley have become true friends through their time at I Can! Dance, Angeletta said. Riley has been to birthday parties and supported Londyn in other activities.
“She really is just a sweet young lady,” Angeletta said of Riley.
Riley has also volunteered with Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure for several years and will be part of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Youth Corps in Dallas this year.
“I get to help clean up, and I help with fundraising,” she said.
The Komen 3-Day event is a 60-mile journey during which participants walk 20 miles each day. Each participant is required to raise at least $2,300 to walk in the event. The Youth Corps will attend the Komen 3-Day event, tent at night in camp with the participants and complete tasks both on the route and in camp. Each Youth Corps member is required to raise $500 in order to participate.
“There’s always someone you can help,” Riley said to her classmates. “You just have to find something you love to do and make community service out of that.”
Riley will receive $1,000 and a trip to Washington, D.C., in early May for four days of national recognition events. During the trip, 10 of the state honorees will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2014.
Staff writer Angela Spencer can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or firstname.lastname@example.org.