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OAKTON, Va.—(OUR MILITARY KIDS)— In honor of April’s Month of the Military Child, Our Military Kids (OMK) is proud to present the winners of the “Courageous Kids of 2021 Contest,” sponsored by Navy Federal Credit Union.

This is the second annual Our Military Kids “Courageous Kids Contest,” which recognizes the extraordinary courage, resilience, and strength of military children and teens (ages 3-18) who, in the previous year, had a parent who deployed with the National Guard or Reserve OR underwent treatment for severe, combat-related injuries.

“This year, we were amazed to receive so many stories spotlighting exceptional military kids and teens from across the country,” said Kara Dallman, Our Military Kids Executive Director and Navy Veteran. “We received 300 nominations from parents, teachers, relatives, and community members with incredible accounts of the contributions our courageous kids were making at school, in their activities, at home, and in their communities while having a military parent deployed or in recovery.”

The Nomination Review Committee, which was composed of volunteers from Our Military Kids, Navy Federal Credit Union, Wounded Warrior Project, and Lockheed Martin, selected twelve (12) winners who each will receive a $300 cash stipend, personalized award certificate, letter, and have their stories shared throughout the Month of the Military Child.

"Through every story I read, I thought of my grandkids and their experiences as military kids,” said Kevin Driscoll, VP Investment Services at Navy Federal Financial Group, a wholly owned subsidiary of Navy Federal Credit Union. “I’ve seen them embrace several deployments with resiliency and bravery. Bravo Zulu to all of the Courage Kids this year!” 

The “Courageous Kids of 2021 Contest” winners are:

  • U.S. Army: Thomas Ryan, age 18, from New Hampshire
  • U.S. Army National Guard: Addison Noechel, age 12, from Maryland
  • U.S. Army Reserve: Johnathan and Randy Helpingstine, ages 13 and 11, from Utah
  • U.S. Navy: Avani DeGroat, age 12, from California
  • U.S. Navy Reserve: Gabriel Lieberman, age 16, from Tennessee
  • U.S. Air Force: Ashelyn Hooker, age 6, from Georgia
  • U.S. Air National Guard: Wyatt Artrip, age 10, from Ohio
  • U.S. Air Force Reserve: Allan Mora, age 18, from Missouri
  • U.S. Marine Corps: Haley Roy-Hine, age 15, from California
  • U.S. Marine Corps Reserve: Damien Maust, age 10, from Texas
  • U.S. Coast Guard Reserve: Connor Gionet, age 15, from Florida
  • “Hidden Helper Hero” (U.S. Air Force): Azara Emami, age 11, from Virginia

Addison, the daughter of an U.S. Army National Guardsman, said that her favorite part of being a military kid is “the feeling of pride when I tell people my dad helps our country, and the feeling when he comes home from deployment and I see him for the first time.”

Allan, the son of an U.S. Air Force Reservist, gave advice for fellow military kids: “While deployments may seem like a challenge, they present an opportunity to demonstrate true strength toward our Nation and yourself. By allowing yourself to be brave through the parent-less nights while they serve our Nation, that shows you are also a hero.”

Contest winners will be announced on the Our Military Kids social media channels and website throughout April. You can read each “Courageous Kids of 2021 Contest” winner’s story at:

About Our Military Kids: Our Military Kids recognizes the sacrifice of children (ages 3-18) of deployed National Guard, deployed Reserve, or post-9/11, combat-injured service members or Veterans by offering extracurricular activity grants that build children's self-confidence, enhance family wellness, and strengthen a shared sense of community. Since 2004, Our Military Kids has proudly provided 77,000 activity grants worth $30 million to children and teens across the country. For more information, please visit Navy Federal Credit Union: Established in 1933 with only seven members, Navy Federal now has the distinct honor of serving over 11 million members globally and is the world’s largest credit union. As a member-owned and not-for-profit organization, Navy Federal always puts the financial needs of its members first. Membership is open to all Department of Defense and Coast Guard Active Duty, veterans, civilian and contractor personnel, and their families. Dedicated to its mission of service, Navy Federal employs a workforce of over 20,000 and has a global network of 350 branches. For more information about Navy Federal Credit Union, visit insured by NCUA. Equal Opportunity Employer.