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6 Local Huggable Heroes Contest Semifinalists

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - Build-A-Bear held a "Huggable Heroes" contest and six local semifinalists are among eighty young leaders being recognized for helping the community.

Ten Heroes will be selected, each receiving ten thousand dollars, seventy-five hundred for educational scholarship money and twenty-five hundred dollars to a charity of the child's choice.

Here is a look at our local "Huggable Heroes" Contest Semifinalists.

Stephanie Patton
Stephanie has helped raise more than $125,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) by participating in the Arch City Theater Troupe (ACTT), a musical revue run exclusively by kids to educate the public about diabetes and accept donations for the cause. ACTT started as a neighborhood show and, with Stephanie`s assistance, now features 40 kids from 20 schools in the St. Louis area. Stephanie also has volunteered for a variety of other JDRF fund-raising activities, such as its annual walk, auction, family retreats and Halloween party.

Benjamin (Ben) Hughes
Ben has raised money and awareness for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS).  He has actively been involved in LLS`s "Light the Night Walk," among other campaigns.  In addition, Ben has orchestrated several 'Lemonade for Leukemia Stands' with friends from school.  To date, Ben and his team of volunteers have raised more than $30,000 for LLS. Ben has been an Honored Hero for LLS campaigns and often participates in speaking engagements.  He also encourages fellow patients through his blog, which has nearly 20,000 visitors.

Griffin Lester
Each December since he was four-years-old, Griffin has organized and operated a charity hot chocolate stand to raise funding to purchase  holiday gifts for children in need. Griffin's annual event has grown to become a favorite neighborhood and community gathering, drawing people from near and far to donate money and toys. To date, Griffin has raised nearly $10,000 to be donated along with toys to a shelter for homeless women and children.

Elijah Rutherford
At age seven, Elijah started the Traveling Awareness Bears program to bring comfort to children facing health challenges. The bears visit for one week and are accompanied by a passport and journal. They arrive dressed in t-shirts and have been "diagnosed" with the same disease, disorder or symptom as the recipient child. The program provides the children with love, encouragement, and the comfort of a teddy bear hug.

Madelyn McGlynn
Madelyn co-founded NETwork Against Malaria (NAM) to help save Ugandan children`s lives and keep them in school. Due to malaria, the average Ugandan student misses 60 days of schools per year. NAM provides malaria and health education for American and Ugandan students and raises funding for bed net distribution to Ugandan students and pregnant women.  Madelyn has helped raise approximately $75,000 and purchased 5,500 bed nets to protect up to 16,500 children and pregnant women from malaria. Madelyn`s leadership has inspired 30 high school and college NAM chapters in 18 states.