Finalists for Booz Allen Hamilton Innovation Award for Military Children Announced

Mar 8, 2016 12:50 PM ET

Imagine a stuffed bear that can go into an MRI with kids to make the scans less scary. What about a nonprofit to help military children with disabilities pay for accessibility items for military housing that aren’t covered by insurance or housing allowances. Sounds pretty cool, right? These ideas were developed by military kids to help meet a need in their community, and are among the five finalists for a new innovation award sponsored by Booz Allen Hamilton.

“Booz Allen is committed to shining a spotlight on the creativity, commitment, and compassion of military families—and we thought a great way to do that is to work with our longtime nonprofit partner Operation Homefront to recognize ways in which military children are innovating and giving back to their communities,” says Booz Allen Executive Vice President Laurie Gallo, who is on the national Board of Operation Homefront. In conjunction with Operation Homefront’s Military Child of the Year (MCOY) program, the firm is the sole sponsor of a new award—the Booz Allen Hamilton Innovation Award for Military Children, to be given to a military child who has created an innovative community program or nonprofit.

The MCOY awards, presented by the Joint Chiefs (for their branch of service) at a Gala event in April, is a vital recognition of the importance of the military family and their sacrifice for country and community. Booz Allen’s new award will be presented to the winner at this year’s event. The nominees’ projects will be judged on three criteria: impact, feasibility (can Booz Allen help scale the program for greater impact), and uniqueness.

Let’s meet the finalists!

  • Emily Hoover (age 12, affiliation: Air Force) has epilepsy. She invented the EpiBear to comfort children needing medical scans and tests. “Asking a child as young as four years old to go through EEGs, MRIs, or CAT scans can be scary. My #EpiBear is a buddy for the child during those scary times and helps soothe them through testing.”
  • Grace Anne Remy (age 12, affiliation: Air Force) has moved four times and experienced seven deployments of her dad. “Military kids need help because they are sad, mad, or lonely when they move and when their parent gets deployed.” She’s written two books that she hopes to make available to all children on military bases to help them deal with the feelings that come with relocation and deployment.
  • Nathan Martus (age 18, affiliation: National Guard), is trying to enhance the lift to drag ratio by placing dimples (like on a golf ball) on the trailing edge of a plane’s wing to close the boundary layer closer to the surface, creating less separation. “Winning the Booz Allen Innovation Award will help me test and spread knowledge of what I am trying to accomplish and hopefully encourage others to attempt their own similar designs to create efficiency as well as build a community of aerospace enthusiasts.”
  • Liz O’Brien (age 17, affiliation: Army) created the Military Child Access Assistance Program and started a 5K "Hike2Help" that has currently raised over $7,000 to pay for modifications to base housing for military children with disabilities, which are not currently covered by insurance or housing allowances. “Someday I hope that attention to this effort might affect change in insurance policies which would cover these kinds of modifications.”
  • Jordyn McNeal (age 10, affiliation: Air Force) started Faith Like a Child, a 501c3 nonprofit that helps others through “Love Projects”—like raising funds to send a sick child to Disney World. “I think if people see someone who needs help, they should help them, because that’s the right thing to do.”

You can join/follow the conversation on social media #MCOYInnovationAward