Reynoldsburg High School senior Caitlin Rigsby has won the $1,000 grand prize in the Amazing Student Volunteers scholarship contest presented by ThisWeek Community Media and Columbus State Community College.
The scholarship was designed to showcase volunteer efforts of youth in central Ohio and recognize the extraordinary volunteer efforts of children throughout the region, according to ThisWeek general manager Stephen Zonars.
"So often in meetings with community leaders and business people, someone will mention a student who has done something out of the ordinary in our community," Zonars said.
"I mentioned that fact to the ThisWeek staff, and they thought we should do something special to recognize these young men and women," he said.
Rigsby, daughter of Steve and Paula Rigsby, is president of the National Honor Society at the high school and said she began last summer, thinking of ideas for volunteer projects.
"I thought, 'How can I get more clubs involved instead of just the National Honor Society?' And that's when I came up with Raiders Go Pink for breast-cancer research," Rigsby said. "This is the first one I've done for like a research cause, where you actually raise tons of money, get sponsors in the community and get a lot of backup for the project."
Rigsby said she soon had begun receiving commitments from the high school's Leo Club, DECA and ski club to launch the Raiders Go Pink campaign.
After receiving several sponsorships from the community, Rigsby said, students raised enough money to purchase "Raiders Go Pink" T-shirts to be sold at the school and to the community for $7 each.
Students raised about $6,500, which was donated to the Stefanie Spielman Fund for breast cancer research.
Although she began the Raiders Go Pink project herself, Rigsby said, senior Evan Holliman, president of the Leo Club, came on board early and helped her get it going.
Giving back, getting involved and spreading the effort across the community was her goal, she said.
"I felt like this was my chance to get involved in a different way, where I got more than just club members involved or football players involved," she said. "I mean we got everyone on the bandwagon. It was very humbling, and it was fun, but it was a lot of hard work, though. I was stressed."
Although she is excited to graduate and move on to college, she said, her experience in Reynoldsburg schools was a good one.
After graduation in June, she plans to attend Ohio State University in the fall and major in biology. Afterward, she plans to attend medical school.
"I want to work in a pediatric ER because I've had the chance to volunteer at Nationwide Children's Hospital last summer, and it was fun," Rigsby said.
She said she was diagnosed with celiac, a digestive condition triggered by consumption of the gluten protein, during her sophomore year.
"So I've seen a lot of doctors, and I've been in the hot seat, so I feel like I can give an empathetic hand and kind of realize where people are coming from and have that insight," Rigsby said. "And I also think that's where volunteering came in because it's a positive outlet where I could begin to do it on my own time, and if I got sick, I didn't have a sports commitment."
Rigsby said she likes the outdoors.
"I enjoy being outside, and I've grown up in the neighborhood with tons of friends, and we've always been outside ever since we were little, riding our bikes and taking walks," Rigsby said.
She said she plans to continue to volunteer as much as she can while focusing on science and math research in schools.