When Holly Klepek was 12, her best friend, Megan, was diagnosed with type 1 juvenile diabetes.
Watching Megan get shots and as many as 20 finger-sticks a day just to stay alive, Holly realized how fortunate she was to be healthy and that she wanted to help.
She decided the best way to do that was to raise money for diabetes research, so she joined a walk team named Megan's Miracle Workers. To date, the team has raised $97,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).
Members walk each fall in the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes and hold a variety of events throughout the year.
A dodgeball tournament is next on the fundraising schedule.
"I really hope we reach our goal of $100,000," Klepek said.
For her work raising money for diabetes research and for the many other volunteer efforts that have come to define her life, Holly has been named a runner-up in the Amazing Student Volunteers scholarship contest, sponsored by ThisWeek Community Media and Columbus State Community College.
Holly found raising money for the JDRF so fulfilling that she expanded her efforts to help others. Last year, she completed more than 300 hours of community service, earning the President's Gold Volunteer Service Award.
Two years ago, she founded a group called Holly's Helpers, which raised money for the Capital Area Humane Society and helped with clothing and food drives for the community kitchen at St. John's Episcopal Church.
She also served as a team captain for Relay For Life, raising money for cancer research.
At Worthington Kilbourne High School, where she is a senior, she has assisted in several student council-run campaigns to collect food, gifts for children at Christmas and blood.
Annually, the group collects and donates three to four tons of food, more than 100 units of blood and $12,000 to $15,000, she said.
Klepek has acquired a talent for rallying the support of other people, according to Worthington Kilbourne activities director Ralph King, who nominated Holly for the Amazing Student Volunteers award.
She does this by raising awareness, believing that when people become educated about whom they are helping and can see how their efforts are appreciated, they are willing to help.
"She is truly passionate about volunteer and community-service work," King wrote. "It has become a big part of who she is and something she plans to continue the rest of her life."
Holly said she plans to attend Miami University in Oxford next year to study pre-med, she said, and hopes to become a pediatrician.