Ten local kids, making a difference.

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Volume One + Kristo Orthodontics + Smiles in Motion Pediatric Dentistry

This was difficult. A few months ago, we asked Volume One readers to nominate local kids aged 10 years or younger for a special feature. Our goal was not to find “the best” kids in the area, but to discover outstanding examples of what Chippewa Valley youth can accomplish.

We were looking for kids with passion and creativity. Kids with big ideas. Kids who dive in. Kids who care about their families and their communities.

We asked you to submit diverse nominees in terms of age, ability, interests, and culture. And we were overwhelmed by your response.

Selecting the 10 kids you see in the following pages was no easy feat. It was a moving experience to read through your applications, and we’re so proud to live amongst so many phenomenal young citizens.

The 10 individuals to featured here aren’t the “winners.” They’re simply a band of kids who demonstrate some of what’s great about growing up in the Chippewa Valley. We believe their stories are inspiring — for kids and grown-ups alike.

The 2022 Honorees

Myles Johnson

Age: 7 • Town: Ladysmith
His True Calling: Teaching others about healthy eating

With a ukelele that looks like a watermelon, it’s no surprise Myles Johnson knows a thing or two about healthy eating. Myles wanted to share his knowledge with the world, which is why he started a Facebook page called Myles In The Healthy Lane.

What started as some videos he made on his mom’s phone about the importance of drinking water, turned into a fun page where Myles gets to show off his fun activities and push kids and adults to eat more fruits and veggies and to get outside whenever you can.

“We made a pickle video where there were a lot of pickled foods I’ve tried and haven’t tried,” Myles said. “Even if I don’t like it I still like to try new foods.” He also loves to help his grandma harvest fresh food from her garden.

When he’s not discussing healthy foods, Myles is also super involved with his community. He enjoys building floats with his family for Ladysmith’s Mardi Gras Festival, playing in a local band, and participating in Boy Scouts.

The Mardi Gras floats are a part of a Ladysmith parade that the whole community gets to enjoy. His watermelon ukelele has been with him for three years and he even plays in Joe’s Music and Sewing Center band with other musical kiddos. His favorite song to play is “Hawaii 5-O”.

As a boy scout, Myles is constantly volunteering in the community and learning new life skills. When Myles grows up he wants to be a teacher, a paleontologist, a singer, or a YouTuber. He’s a kid with many hats!

Claire Becker

Age: 10 • Town: Eau Claire
Her good deed: Selling bracelets to raise money for Ukraine relief

Claire Becker has a big heart. How big? Big enough to learn about the conflict happening in Ukraine and wanting to do something about it.

Claire was already a big fan of making rubber band bracelets, but the idea to sell them and donate the money to Ukraine came later when she learned about all of the suffering that was happening on Youtube.

She called up her friend and they decided to sell blue and yellow rubber band bracelets together. They started selling the bracelets at school and around their neighborhood, but it became much larger when their teacher learned about what they were doing and wanted to help.

At first, he just wanted to buy some, but he was so moved by their kindness that he enlisted the rest of her class to help. Since Claire and her friend were the original bracelet makers, they got to teach their classmates how to make them and work together as a team. “When we learned we had made our first $100, we were all really excited,” Claire said.

Claire and her class were able to raise nearly $1,000 to donate to UNICEF. “It made me feel really good that so many other people wanted to get involved with it,” Claire said.

“I didn’t want it to just be a ‘me’ thing because I wanted everyone to be included in it. Plus, making all those bracelets by myself would have been too hard because at one point we had an order for 25 bracelets.”

In the future, Claire and her friends may choose other charities to donate to so they can spread the happiness.

Lily Knopps

Age: 5 • Town: Chippewa Falls
Her sage advice: Never give up!

Getting back up after you fall is something Lily Knopps knows a lot about. At only five years old, Lily has a real talent and love for dancing and gymnastics — her favorite kind of dancing being “Acro”, a dance and gymnastics fusion.

Lily’s absolute favorite gymnastics move is handstands, but when she had her accident and broke her arm, those became pretty hard to do.

Lily was playing on the monkey bars one day when she accidentally fell, breaking her arm bone completely in half. Lily broke her arm nine days before her second competition, but that didn’t stop her. Despite having to change the dance, Lily still went on stage and danced her heart out — cast and all. “Even if something happens, you can still keep following your dreams,” Lily said.

After her arm had completely healed, Lily competed again this year and won first place in Overall High Point and Performance Artist of the Year, and Mini-Solo Master at her national dance competition. Her winning dance was “Shades” where she got to wear sunglasses and had a cool dance to a jazz song.

Not only is she a dancing machine, but she has also recently gotten into voice acting and even recorded a commercial for the Arizona Department of Health.

When Lily grows up she said she wants to be an animal doctor because she loves all animals (except spiders).

August Anderson

Age: 7 • Town: Chetek
His true calling: To be famous and to help others

Lights, camera, August! In just seven years of life, August Anderson has accomplished — and continues to do — many great things.

Auggie has been learning to play the violin for the past two years and loves to play for others. In fact, he has played his violin at the Chetek Scholarship Fundraiser and the Rice Lake Public Library Fundraiser — where he received a standing ovation.

His favorite song to play on the violin is “Maple Leaf Reel”. Not only does he like performing music, but he also enjoys being on stage.

He has been in a performance of Winnie the Pooh and Newsies but plans to do a lot more now that theater shows are starting back up again.

Auggie is also currently looking to publish his own children’s book about a unicorn (previously a narwhal) named Smash and a dragon named Steven team up on an adventure into the Forbidden Forest. “There is sports, marshmallows, and adventure,” Auggie said.

Illustrations for the book are happening right now and then publishing is not far in the future. The idea for his story came from some playtime with his stuffed animals while he was in the hospital.

Auggie has a very rare form of cancer called N-TRK Rearranged Neoplasma which mostly affects young children. Since it is so rare, Auggie is one of 11 people in a clinical trial to try and find a cure and to help any other children who may be diagnosed in the future.

Emmarie Heller

Age: 5 • Town: Eau Claire
Her true calling: To spread happiness

Emmarie Heller wants everyone feline good. An avid cat lover, Emmarie has been fostering and taking care of kittens for a very long time.

“I like to foster because I like to snuggle with cats,” Emmarie said. Cuddling with cats is her specialty, just ask her best pal Whiskers (pictured).

Thanks to Emmarie’s patience and kindness, dozens of cats have been well taken care of before going to their forever homes. But it isn’t just felines that Emmarie likes to show kindness towards.

When Emmarie’s grandpa was in the Chippewa Valley Veterans Nursing Home, she would bring the residents personalized valentine presents.

After her grandfather passed away, she still wanted to go back and visit the other residents because it made them happy and because she said she considers them all to be friends of hers.

Emmarie also likes to volunteer whenever she can like at the Eau Claire Clean Up, the Chippewa Valley Theater Guild, and donating backpacks to kids that need them. She likes to spread joy however she can which is why she will often bring her neighbors flowers and candy on May Day and ice cream bars on very hot days.

The world can always use more happiness, and that’s why Emmarie continues to do the amazing things she does.

Adrianna Martin

Age: 10 • Town: Eau Claire
Her true calling: To be a business owner

Calling all sweet tooths! Adrianna Martin has started her own stand to sell yummy treats to the area.

The best part? Her stand, Adrianna’s Sweet Tooth Stand, is right outside of her parent’s dentist’s office, Martin Dental, so you can get your teeth cleaned right after you enjoy your tasty treat.

Adrianna’s specialty is her homemade brownies, but the goodies don’t stop there. She also sells ice cream bars, lemonade, homemade Rice Krispie treats, and even homemade dog treats if you decide to bring your furry friend! Adrianna’s favorite part so far has been getting to work on the stand with her friends and the experience of running her own business.

Adrianna purchased 2/3 of the stand herself with a small loan from her parents that she was able to pay back in full. She said that when she grows up she wants to own her own business again — though she hasn’t decided what kind of business.

When she’s not single-handedly running her own business, Adrianna likes to volunteer with her mom at the Community Table, a local non-profit dedicated to feeding the community. “I like helping people in need and making the food for them,” Adrianna said.

Though Adrianna’s Sweet Tooth Stand doesn’t have set business hours, that is something she is hoping to have really soon!

Teia Mueller

Age: 7 • Town: Eau Claire
Her good deed: Volunteering for many social justice events in the CV

Teia Mueller is passionate about equality, which is why she has volunteered at several social justice events around the community.

She got into this volunteering because her mom is the founder of the Chippewa Valley Equality Initiative (CVEI), but she continues to volunteer because she feels it is the right thing to do.

Teia has volunteered at events like Eau Claire’s Pride Festival, the Juneteenth Celebration, a Stop Asian Hate Protest, the Daunte Wright protest, and others. She also helps out a lot with CVEI events like working the booths, handing out flyers, and even helping people make their jewelry at the booths. “The best part is that everybody is different, I saw people that were black, people that were white, I saw a lot of cool people,” Teia said.

When she grows up, she said she wants to be a police officer so she can continue to help people in her neighborhood and make a difference in the department. “I want to fight for people,” Teia said. “I love that everybody is different.

Just because someone looks different doesn’t mean they are different. We all are the same so we should be treated the same.”

Benjamin Thiede

Age: 9 • Town: Eau Claire
His true calling: To save the bees!

Benjamin knows all the buzz. We don’t mean gossip, but honey bees! Benjamin watched his grandpa’s house and take care of bees in his backyard and knew he wanted to help.

For the past two summers, Benjamin has helped his grandpa with his bees and the collecting of honey while also learning about how important bees are to the environment. “Without these pollinators, the world would have no flowers or anything,” Benjamin said.

Benjamin’s favorite bee fact is that there can be 50,000 bees in a hive. Why so many? Because each bee produces 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in their lifetime.

When collecting the honey, Benjamin explained a little bit of the process like using a hot knife to cut the initial wax layer that protects the honey, then putting the honeycomb into a honey extractor — which spins really fast — to separate the honey and the wax. After the honey is in jars, Benjamin said he likes to give people honey as a birthday present or sell it to people — which is his goal.

Benjamin’s favorite part about the whole process is being able to taste the honey because there is nothing better than fresh honey after all that hard work. He plans to continue beekeeping as a side hobby when he is older to keep helping the bees collect the delicious honey.

Shelby Rieschl

Age: 9 • Town: Barron
Her good deed: Raising money to make a local park more accessible

Shelby Rieschl is simply the zest. She was given the nickname “Shelby Rae of Sunshine” by her mother who says she was born “sunny-side up”.

The City of Barron was raising money to build a new playground at Anderson Park, a playground for all ages and abilities. Shelby’s grandma suggested she help with the fundraising efforts, which is why she opened her Rae of Sunshine Lemonade Stand.

Shelby said that she loves to make lemonade and really enjoys it when her friends come over to help her with it. And she doesn’t just sell the average lemonade, oh no. She also has other flavors that she will swap in and out including strawberry lemonade, blueberry lemonade, and even black cherry lemonade.

She spent two summers running the lemonade stand and was able to raise over $500 for the new playground. When it came time to build the playground, Shelby joined in on the effort to help the city save on installation costs.

Even though the park effort is complete, Shelby isn’t done shining her light on others. She is still donating half of her sales to different charities and organizations she feels passionate about. She donated to Purple Cat, an Eau Claire vet office, because of her love for animals.

Shelby’s work at her lemonade stand has made her realize that she wants to be a business owner when she grows up and to continue to give back to her community.

Oliver Newton

Age: 7 • Town: Augusta
His good deed: Selling his paintings to raise money for the Cops and Kids Foundation

Duh nuh… duh nuh… duh nuh duh nuh! Sharks are pretty cool, and Oliver Newton is too. Oliver’s favorite animals are sharks and he really enjoys painting and drawing them.

So many people liked Oliver’s shark paintings and coloring pages that he started selling them to friends, family, and some people on Instagram.

Oliver’s art got a shoutout from the Youtube Channel @SomeGoodNews, hosted by John Krasinski (yes, that John Krasinski). After that, Oliver’s coloring pages were in high demand.

Oliver wanted to donate the money he was making to the Kids N’ Cops Program — a local program that allows underprivileged children in the area to go shopping with a police officer and other volunteers to pick out clothes and presents around Christmas time.

Oliver said he chose this nonprofit to donate to the Kids N’ Cops Program because he wanted to help other kids get presents around Christmas time and to make other people happy.

Oliver created around 50 different shark paintings and coloring pages and sold them to raise money and he ended up raising almost $300 for the program. “I like to paint sharks because they’re endangered,” Oliver said.

Being a huge animal lover, Oliver said he wants to be a vet when he grows up. People can check out Oliver’s artwork on Instagram (@ArtworkByOllie).

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