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Arkansas teens Abby Gates and Leyton Gassaway received the 2011 Prudential Spirit of Community Award, honoring their commitment and dedication to helping others, during a ceremony in Washington, D.C. 

Gates, 18, from Clinton, earned this recognition by establishing a philanthropic equestrian event in Van Buren County. The ‘Ride for Life’ incorporates Gate’s love of horses while raising money for the American Cancer Society, a charity she selected after her grandma died of brain cancer. In its first two years, the event raised more than $20,000.

"This is a great opportunity to show the importance of community service. Volunteering is an easy way to make the world a better place,” Gates said. 

Gassaway, 13, from Paragould, earned this recognition after designing the Paragould History Trail, a 2.2 mile handicap accessible trail that details the story of the community’s growth and expansion. 

“Everyone who completes the trail leaves with a better sense of community awareness and appreciation,” Gassaway said. 

The Arkansas students met with U.S. Senator John Boozman during her trip to Washington D.C. during award recognition events. 

“Abby and Leyton represent a great future for our country as citizens who actively work to make Arkansas a better place. I appreciate their efforts and congratulate them on their hard work and determination. I encourage them to continue their efforts,” Boozman said. 

The Prudential Spirit of Community Award represents the nation’s largest youth recognition program based exclusively on volunteer community service. The award was created in 1995 by Prudential in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals to honor middle and high school students.

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