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Area boy raising funds for trip to conference

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Eleven-year-old Blake Wharton is attempting to raise enough money this summer in order to attend a Junior National Young Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C., this fall. Blake is the son of David and Julie Wharton, Brazil. [Order this photo]
When 11-year-old Blake Wharton received the letter in the mail, he was excited.

"He was on cloud nine when he got that invitation in the mail," Blake's mother Julie said.

Through a nomination by his fifth-grade teacher, Blake was invited to attend a Junior National Young Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C.

Blake's teacher, Forest Park Elementary's Audra Duling, said he is very deserving to attend.

"Blake is a good student," Duling said. "He's a hard worker. I thought it would mean something personally to him."

Blake received the invitation in the mail May 31.

"I was happy," Blake said. "I told (Duling) thanks. My friend was there. He said it was awesome so I want to go."

"He came in the next day and he was really excited," Duling said. "(His parents) were just thrilled."

"He had a smile on his face the rest of the night," Julie said.

Julie said their targeting a conference scheduled in September.

"I think he wants to go sooner," she said.

Students are nominated based on academic achievement and leadership abilities. While at the conference, guest speakers will lecture students on leadership, character, problem solving, and more.

Julie said the conferences are designed for middle school students. All students get to spend one week in Washington, D.C., and will have the opportunity to see several guest speakers.

Past speakers include former Vice President and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Al Gore, former Secretary of State Gen. Colin L. Powell (ret.), former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and consumer advocate Ralph Nader.

While in Washington, D.C., students will have the opportunity to visit the National Museum of American History, the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans and Korean War Veterans Memorials and more.

"Blake is really into history a lot," Julie said. "He's really into that stuff. His father (David) is in the military. He thought it was amazing he had an opportunity to go."

Blake said he is especially excited to see the war memorials. His mother's uncle died in the Vietnam War.

If he does raise enough money to attend, Blake's grandfather has asked for an etching of his brother's name from the wall.

Julie said tuition to attend the conference is approximately $2,000. The total does not include airfare and more.

We have to have all the money turned in by August," Julie said.

The Forest Park Elementary Student Council has already chipped in for Blake, but the family needs more help.

Julie said an account was established in Blake's name at Fifth Third Bank for donations. In addition, she is looking into setting up fundraisers and benefits.

She added she will be printing fliers and place them strategically around Brazil.

"I'm obviously proud of him," Julie said. "We're hoping we can get some community sponsors."

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Congratulations, Blake!!

-- Posted by Dagnabbitt on Mon, Jun 13, 2011, at 10:53 PM

Way to go Blake...congratulations!

-- Posted by Proud of My Country on Tue, Jun 14, 2011, at 9:29 AM

While I don't know this boy, I am so proud of him. I really hope that everyone in our community comes together to help this boy raise the money to take this trip. Every dollar counts and will make a difference, so give $1 if that's all that you can afford. I will definitely be stopping by the bank to make a donation. Way to go Blake!

-- Posted by mk47394 on Tue, Jun 14, 2011, at 4:51 PM

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