By CRA News Service
Connie Siskowski, founder of a local organization that supports children who are caring for ill, injured, elderly, or disabled family members, has made the top 10 cut for CNN’s “Hero of the Year.”
The honor comes with a $50,000 award – and a chance at the ultimate $250,000 prize – that will go toward the Boca Raton-based American Association of Caregiving Youth. The winner is determined by voters, with online voting, which is open until Nov. 28. Siskowski’s image and story now appears with the other nine candidates in the running for the “Hero of the Year” on CNN’s website.
“Every online vote for me by email or Facebook makes us one step closer to reaching the goal for the children of AACY,” said Siskowski, a critical care registered nurse who moved to Boca Raton from New Jersey in 1990.
The annual tribute show – “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute,” – will be hosted live by news anchor Anderson Cooper Dec. 2 at 9 p.m. on CNN. Since its inception in 2007, “CNN Heroes” has received 45,000 plus submissions from more than 100 countries and profiled more than 180 heroes.
If Siskowski wins, the money will ensure that more child caregivers locally and nationally are recognized, valued and supported.
Siskowski and her team provide stress and anger management programs and tutoring in eight middle schools and 17 high schools in the county.
The organization also helps families get proper medical care and provide field trips and overnight camps so child caregivers can have a respite.
“It takes the systems of healthcare, education and the community – body, mind and spirit – to form a strong foundation of services for youth and their families who are impacted by a myriad of health conditions” said Siskowski, who earned a doctorate in educational leadership from Lynn University and was named a 2011 Woman of Grace by Bethesda Hospital Foundation.
Siskowski, a graduate of Johns Hopkins, New York and Lynn universities, cared for her own grandfather as a child.
Siskowski launched the Boca Raton Interfaith in Action organization in the 1990s to provide volunteer support services to people who were homebound and family caregivers. That organization later evolved into Volunteers for the Homebound and Family Caregivers.
Voting for the CNN Hero of the Year is open online (www.cnnheroes.com) until Nov. 28, and voters can do so up to 10 times a day, every day. The only requirements to vote are a valid email address and internet access, and there are no age restrictions to vote. Follow AACY on Facebook & Twitter and follow CNN Heroes at Facebook.com/CNNHeroes & Twitter.com/CNNHeroes and use hashtag #CNNHeroes.