Incredible Kids Recognized
A broad group of Central Texas organizations that serve youth honored 10 area students making impressive contributions of service to their communities and earning them the title of Incredible Kid.
Trimmier Elementary School fourth-grader Briana Liles and Harker Heights High School senior Jarin Cole joined students from Copperas Cove, Belton, Temple and area private schools and home schools among the honorees.
Killeen ISD Superintendent John Craft, the keynote speaker for the event Wednesday at the Bell County Expo Center, praised the students’ impressive achievements and shared characteristics that embody an effective leader.
He urged the high-achieving, service-minded students to practice humility, to lead with courage and confidence, to practice strong character and to maintain hope while finding the best in people.
For Liles, the Incredible Kid award was just the latest in a long line of honors. She and her family operated a lemonade stand last year that raised $900 and resulted in donations to the Children’s Alopecia Project. That effort led to the National Lemonade Day Entrepreneur of the Year, selected among 80,000 children.
The fourth-grader, who has alopecia areata, which causes hair loss, has raised more than $2,500 for the Children’s Alopecia Project. She also collects supplies for a local animal shelter and volunteers at a nursing home.
Cole, a jazz and blues musician, plays in Austin-area venues and weekly at his church and uses his skills to help others.
Also known as JC Stringz, Cole started Blues Under the Stars, a Killeen event that raises money for those in need. He recently helped provide funds for a classmate who suffered a serious car accident.
“I feel honored to receive this award,” Cole said following the Incredible Kids ceremony. “Everyone here is incredible, many of them are doing greater things than I’m doing.” The son of Darron and Tina Cole plans to attend Temple College and continue his music.
“It’s really amazing what I’ve done this year,” said Liles, agreeing that it has been a whirlwind of service projects and recognition for her. “What motivates me is that I enjoy doing it. I like to help the community.”
This year, she and parents William and Christy Liles are ramping up to sell more lemonade during this year’s Lemonade Day the first weekend in May among other fundraisers.
In Craft’s remarks to students, he said that strong character matters, that thoughts lead to words, leading to actions, habits, character and destiny.
He said that leading with confidence and courage usually requires action and that as leaders in the next generation, the strong-achieving, service-minded students would be called to go first and to take calculated risks heading into uncertainty.
The other Incredible Kid winners include Caleb Marek, eighth-grader Providence Preparatory School; Dorianna Gilbert, fourth-grader Williams/Ledger Elementary School; Vaughn McQuiston, fifth-grader Western Hills Elementary School; Allyssa Kimball, ninth-grader Copperas Cove High School; Devin Hardy, senior Copperas Cove High School; Ruth Ann Lawson, senior Belton New Tech High School; Kelby Kosel, homeschool and Texas Bioscience Institute; and Christopher Johnson, junior Texas Connections Academy.
The Central Texas Youth Coalition also recognized community contributors Wendall Williams of Ralph Wilson Youth Club, Calvin Darthard of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Texas, Salado ISD Superintendent Michael Novotny and the Temple Founders Lions Club.