DOWNEY - Brent Lugo, a sixth grader at East Middle School, and Eileen Garrido, a fifth grader at Rio San Gabriel Elementary, recently were recognized with the Downey Youth Service Award, sponsored by the Downey Kiwanis Club and The Downey Patriot.Brent is active with Boy Scouts Troop 979, having begun scouting as a Webelo three years ago. He has earned the Arrow of Light and has aspirations of becoming an Eagle Scout. This past summer Brent volunteered at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center and he recently completed a six-month term as Assistant Senior Patrol Leader. He was also very active in the Boy Scouts' annual food drive, collecting food and non-perishable items from family and friends. He has also shown leadership in keeping the community free of pollution. Brent averages A and B grades and was presented with the Silver Presidential Award at his fifth grade graduation. Last October he received a $100 scholarship from the Mary Stauffer Foundation. "I am very honored to have received this award and I will continue to do my best to help my community to the best of my abilities," Brent said. Eileen Garrido has dedicated her young life to helping raise money to help sick children in the community. Eileen was born March 10, 1999. The following day, doctors diagnosed her with tetralogy of fallot, a complex heart condition that can be fatal if left untreated. At the age of 5 weeks, Eileen underwent her first heart surgery at Children's Hospital in Los Angeles. She underwent her second heart surgery at 13 months. Although the surgeries were successful, today Eileen still has severe leakage in her left ventricle which doctors continue to monitor closely. The heart condition has done nothing to slow Eileen down. In January 2007, at age 7, she began taking voice lessons and in December 2007 she recorded her first CD titled, "Part of Your World," which consisted of Disney classics. Her second CD, titled "Angel of Music," was recorded in July of 2009. It contains music from her favorite Broadway musicals and a song she wrote called "Melody." Last October, Eileen founded the Beating Hearts Foundation (www.beatinghearts.org.), which helps raise money to benefit children with cardiovascular illnesses. Through CD sales, performances and fundraisers, she raises money in support of Children's Hospital L.A. This past summer, she formed the Beating Hearts Children's Advisory Board, composed of six children from local schools to serve on her foundation to provide them a "philanthropic mentality" and encourage volunteerism in their community. Over the past year, Eileen is credited with raising more than $3.8 million for children's charities. Eileen has been featured on radio stations, including 104.3 MY-FM, where she performed her song, "On My Wings of Flight." The performances prompted a call from a nurse at Children's Hospital Orange County who claimed the song brought her "hope and joy" after she had been diagnosed with lupus earlier that year. Eileen also performs regularly at local functions. She sang at the tree lighting ceremony at City Hall in December and also at the July 4 festivities at Discovery Sports Complex. Last February, Eileen was inducted into the Kids Day Hall of Fame and in July she was the national winner of the Kohl's Kids Who Care scholarship contest for her foundation work. Just last month Eileen hosted a fundraiser dinner at the Barbara J. Riley Community and Senior Center that raised more than $5,000 for Children's Hospital L.A., and this month, Family Magazine inducted Eileen into its hall of fame. In addition to her community involvement, Eileen is also a very good student, having made the honor roll as a member of the GATE program. Since kindergarten, Eileen has missed only one day of school, and that was because she was performing in Las Vegas on behalf of the Children's Miracle Network. "Receiving the Downey Youth Service Award is very special to me because it is such a huge honor coming from my city," Eileen said. "It proves that with hard work and dedication you can accomplish anything. I truly enjoy school and serving my community and receiving this award is wonderful and encourages me to do more." Councilman Fernando Vasquez, a Kiwanis board member, said Downey's future "looks promising" thanks to kids like Brent and Eileen. "These young leaders are great examples of youth service making a difference in our city," he said.
********** Published: January 13, 2011 - Volume 9 - Issue 39