Prudential Spirit of Community:  Where there’s a Will there’s a way!

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The Pipe Race was a huge participant hit at the 2015 Carnival for a Cause, a fundraiser staged by Gumboro youth Will Kenney to support Sturge Weber syndrome research and awareness.

GUMBORO – A year ago, Will Kenney was honored as a Distinguished Finalist.

This year, the 13-year-old Gumboro-area youth made it to the top rung of the ladder.

Will – whose “Carnival for a Cause” last September raised approximately $10,000 for foundational research of Sturge Weber syndrome and awareness of the congenital neurological/skin disorder – has been named one of Delaware’s two youth volunteers of 2016 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.

Prudential’s nationwide program honors young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism.

Will was nominated by Millsboro Middle School where he is an eighth grader.

Last year, in recognition of his work, dedication and commitment, Will was nominated for two prestigious scholarships:  the 2015 Prudential Spirit of Community Award and the Ben Carson Scholarship.

As Delaware’s 2016 honorees, Will and Micah Freer, 18, of Mount  Sophia Academy each will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense paid trip in early May to Washington, D.C. In the nation’s capital, they will join the top two honorees from the other states and the District of Columbia for four days of national recognition events.

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After emerging somewhat soggy from the Dunking Booth, Sussex County Councilman Rob Arlett, left, holds Stella Hastings in a photo opt with Carnival for a Cause creator Will Kenney, whose volunteer efforts have earned him the Prudential Spirit of Community Award.

During the trip, 10 students will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2016.

Will’s inspiration for Carnival for a Cause is close family friend, Stella Hastings, a pre-schooler from Millsboro who has a mild form of the disorder often associated with port-wine facial stains, glaucoma, seizures and development issues.

Will’s decision to opt for the carnival route for a fundraiser was to be able to have activities for all ages and also “so that (Stella) could enjoy the fun.”

Staged at Chick Berry Farms east of Laurel, Will’s first carnival in 2014 raised about $5,000.

Last year’s carnival literally doubled that amount. Will planned the event, teamed with his father Bruce Kenney to make homemade carnival-type games, and – with help from friends and family – spearheaded the solicitation of donations and support from businesses and the community for prizes.

In addition to an auction and 23 games, the 2015 Carnival for a Cause included three rides, a petting zoo, food and refreshments, a “dunking booth” and a special appearance by Miss Delaware 2015 Brooke Mitchell.

To help people understand more about Sturge Weber syndrome, Will distributed literature at the carnival and posted information on social media. He created a Carnival for a Cause Facebook page to help promote awareness of Sturge Weber syndrome and update his fundraising activities and carnival plans.

First and foremost, Will said that the experience taught him that “one person cannot move a mountain, but a village can.”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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