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Real Life Heroes Transforming the Lives of Children Across the Globe: Meet the 2013 World of Children® Award Honorees

11/05/2013 10:25 am 10:25:43 | Updated Jan 23, 2014

Since we founded World of Children® Award, I have seen firsthand that superheroes don't only exist in the movies we watch and comic books we read. There are real life heroes among us dedicated to making a difference in the everyday lives of others. World of Children® Award, the only global recognition and funding program that recognizes individuals serving vulnerable children worldwide, continues to work to shine a light on some of these ordinary people whose tremendous efforts result in extraordinary change for children in need.

At this year's Awards Ceremony on November 7, World of Children® Award will honor -- seven inspirational individuals committed to improving the lives of children. These brave and innovative change-makers, who will all be honored with an award that's been hailed by the media as the "Nobel Prize for Child Advocates," prove that you don't need a cape or superpowers to dramatically transform the lives of others for the better.

Here are the 2013 World of Children® Award honorees:

C. Mead Welles, Co-Founder, A Leg To Stand On
In the late 1990s, C. Mead Welles was sitting outside at a restaurant in Indonesia when three underfed and exhausted boys passed by. Two pulled a rope tied to a garbage can lid and a third boy sat on the lid. His leg was deformed, raw and bleeding; he could not stand on it any longer. His knuckles were in the same condition, indicating that he had been pulling himself around on the lid. Paralyzed with sadness for the boy, Mead vowed to dedicate his life to helping children without limbs. He flew home and started A Leg To Stand On (ALTSO), an organization that provides free prosthetic limbs, orthotic devices, mobility aids, corrective surgery and rehabilitative care to children in the developing world who have lost their limbs in traumatic accidents or suffer from congenital disabilities. Since 2002, ALTSO has transformed the lives of over 9,000 children and currently operates 11 programs in 10 developing countries. Mead will use World of Children® Award funds to support children in need of urgent medical treatment.

Triveni Acharya, Co-Founder and President, Rescue Foundation
Triveni Acharya's work as a journalist led her to a brothel in India where she met a 10-year-old girl who had been imprisoned, sexually assaulted and stripped of her rights. Determined to save her, Triveni and her husband vowed to take the girl out of the brothel and shelter her in their own home. When they returned, a group of girls were waiting for them, all desperate to escape. Since then, Triveni has fearlessly led the way in rescuing over 4,000 victims of child trafficking. Children rescued are provided with health care, legal aid, counseling, nutrition and vocational training to begin rebuilding their lives. Currently, Rescue Foundation provides housing to victims of child trafficking in three safe houses in the western states of India.

Michaela "Chaeli" Mycroft, Co-Founder, The Chaeli Campaign
Some people see disability as a burden, others as a gift. Born with cerebral palsy, Chaeli Mycroft sees her disability as the latter: a unique opportunity to advocate for other children with disabilities. At the age of nine, Chaeli and her friends raised money to buy her motorized wheelchair. The success of the fundraiser inspired The Chaeli Campaign, a nonprofit that supports the mobility and educational needs of disabled children in South Africa. Since its foundation in 2004, The Chaeli Campaign has helped more than 10,000 disabled children receive equipment, physical therapy and more. Focus on ability and the importance of inclusion are central to each of the eight programs run by The Chaeli Campaign. Today, Chaeli speaks around the world as an "ability activist," working to create a global community that accepts and embraces disability. Funds from World of Children® Award will support the expansion of The Chaeli Cottage enrichment center into a full-fledged inclusive preschool, providing early childhood development and education for children with disabilities.

Sarah Cronk, Founder, President and Creative Director, The Sparkle Effect, Inc.
Sarah Cronk grew up watching her older brother, Charlie, struggle to make friends due to his disability. Her brother would often eat alone in the nurse's office after being turned away from table after table. It wasn't until a popular swim team captain invited Charlie to sit at his lunch table and encouraged him to join the swim team that his life began to turn around. Sarah was moved to take action when she witnessed Charlie's confidence soar from this simple act of kindness. She was determined to find a way to include students with disabilities at her high school, who, like Charlie, were marginalized and excluded. In 2008, Sarah created and coached the nation's first inclusive cheerleading squad. One year later, she established The Sparkle Effect, Inc. Since its inception, Sarah has generated over 100 inclusive cheerleading and dance teams in middle schools, high schools and colleges across the U.S. that directly include over 2,000 students. Sarah will use World of Children Award funds to provide uniforms for team members and leadership training to potential Sparkle Effect teen leaders, as well as to inspire and generate new inclusive teams.

Susie Krabacher, Co-Founder and President, Mercy & Sharing
World of Children® Award first honored Susie with a Humanitarian Award in 2006 because of her determination to overcome both human and manmade disasters. This year, World of Children Award will honor Susie with the 2013 Alumni Award in celebration of the significant work she and her organization have accomplished since 2006. For nearly 20 years, Susie has provided care and education to abandoned, orphaned and disabled children in Haiti through her organization, Mercy & Sharing. Mercy & Sharing has never been about creating dependencies. Rather, Susie works to determine the best way to help each child, each widow, each woman and each student become independent. The earthquake in 2010 wrought devastation in Haiti, yet Mercy & Sharing continued to grow programs and services throughout this difficult period. Now, Susie is poised to ensure that Mercy & Sharing is working in Haiti for at least 20 more years -- regardless of the obstacles in her path.

Lauren Bush Lauren, Chief FEEDer and Founder, FEED
This year, World of Children Award will honor Lauren Bush Lauren with the 2013 Advocacy Award in celebration of the significant work she and her organization have done for hungry children worldwide. Lauren first saw the terrible realities of hunger and poverty while traveling the world as the Honorary Spokesperson for the United Nations World Food Program as a student in college. These experiences inspired her to combine her two passions: design and making a difference for children in real need, and in 2005 she designed a bag that would allow consumers to give back in a tangible and meaningful way to feed children around the world. The cost of the initial FEED one bag is enough to feed one child in school for one year. Two years later, she foundedFEED in 2007, with the mission to create good products that help feed the world. Sales benefit the U.N. World Food Program, U.S. Fund for UNICEF and Feeding America. FEED is now a major humanitarian force that has provided over 60 million school meals to children around the world.

Maxine Martens, CEO, Martens & Heads!
Maxine Martens joined World of Children® Award's Board of Governors in 2008 and has since played a vital role in expanding the organization's visibility. Maxine's love affair with fashion, luxury and beauty brands began when she moved to New York to join Elizabeth Arden, which eventually took her to London in her role as International Marketing Director. During her time overseas she also had the opportunity to live in Rome, Cairo and Paris. After 11 years abroad, Maxine returned to the United States to forge a highly successful career in executive search. In 2004 she established Martens & Heads, a boutique executive search firm. As CEO, Maxine divides her time between the U.S. and Europe working with clients and candidates. Maxine and her family are keen supporters of children's causes and have long been active in improving the lives of vulnerable children. Among other organizations, she is proud to have been involved with World of Children® Award and the Real Life Children's Ranch in Okeechobee, Florida. This year, World of Children® Award will honor Maxine Martens with a non-monetary Board of Governors' Award for her longtime commitment to improving the lives of children.