By Ashley Bleimes, USA TODAY
Albert Lexie has been shining shoes at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh since 1982. He charges only $3 for his services, and he doesn’t keep any tips.
Instead, Lexie donates his tips to Children’s Free Care Fund, which helps children get the medical attention they need regardless of their ability to pay. So far, he has raised more than $100,000.
Lexie is one of 13 people who will be honored today by the Caring Institute at ceremonies in Washington, D.C. The Caring Awards, inspired by the work of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, recognize people who have shown commitment to charitable activities and set an example for others.
The other honorees
- Oral Lee Brown of Oakland was so touched by a visit to a poverty-stricken elementary school in Oakland in 1987 that she promised to pay the college tuition of any student in the class who finished high school. With her support, 18 of the 23 students finished college, and three have gone on to graduate school.
- Ben Carson of Baltimore is a pediatric brain surgeon who started Angels of the OR, providing neurosurgical care to patients who can’t pay.
- The Rev. Billy Graham dedicated his life to inspiring others and giving hope worldwide.
- Eleanor Josaitis of Detroit runs a food program for women, children and the elderly while helping minorities succeed through education and job training.
- Cal Ripken Jr., the former Baltimore Orioles great, supports literacy campaigns, thyroid patient care and research on Lou Gehrig’s disease in Baltimore. Through the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, he provides needy children with character-building baseball and softball programs.
Young adult awards
- Brittany, 15, and Robbie Bergquist, 14, of Norwell, Mass., started a program to collect prepaid phone cards for soldiers so they can call home. They have raised more than $1 million and sent more than 80,000 calling cards overseas.
- Daniel Kent, 17, of Carmel, Ind., was teaching adult computer classes and found many senior citizens couldn’t attend. He trained volunteers to help him teach and raised money to put computer labs in 70 retirement homes.
- Clayton Lillard, 17, of San Antonio salvages old bikes to fix them and give them to needy children. After eight years, he has placed bikes with more than 800 children.
- Jena Sims, 17, of Winder, Ga., a former beauty queen, raises money for the American Cancer Society, organized a pageant for ailing kids.
- Mattie Stepanek of Rockville, Md., worked for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, raised money for the hungry and wrote poetry. He died in 2004 at age 13.
A corporate award goes to the Gallup Organization in Washington, D.C., and CEO and chairman Jim Clifton for supporting democracy through independent research and polling.