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NEW YORK, April 25, 2011—The Christophers announced today that college student and Lancaster, PA native Shannon Hickey – founder of Mychal’s Message, a ministry inspired by the late Father Mychal Judge which serves the poor and homeless - will receive the 2011 James Keller Award at the 62nd annual Christopher Awards ceremony in New York City on Thursday, May 19th. Since 1987, the James Keller Award – named after The Christophers’ founder - has recognized young people who are changing the world for the better as well as adults who are impacting the lives of children. Previous recipients include hockey Hall-of-Famer and patron of disabled and critically ill children Pat LaFontaine, and dance educator Jacques d’Amboise.
         Diagnosed with a life-threatening liver disease within weeks of her birth in 1990, Shannon Hickey wasn’t expected to live past the age of two. Her mother Kelly found support in family friend Father Mychal Judge who called frequently to pray with her. Those prayers were answered when Kelly took part in an innovative liver transplant that saved Shannon’s life. Her family gave credit to God and the prayers of Father Mychal who remained a constant loving presence in their lives.
         When Father Mychal was killed by falling debris at the World Trade Center on 9/11, Shannon felt devastated. Several months later, she found a way to offer tribute to his legacy of caring for the less fortunate. Shannon requested that, in honor of her transplant anniversary, people buy pairs of socks that she could donate to the homeless – specifically, those who came to the bread line at New York City’s St. Francis of Assisi Church where Father Mychal had lived. She also planned to give recipients a copy of Father Mychal’s prayer which reads, “Lord, take me where you want me to go / Let me meet who you want me to meet / Tell me what you want me to say / And keep me out of your way.” After word spread, Shannon collected 1,500 pairs of socks.
         And so, Mychal’s Message was born. Since 2002, it has served the needy in New York, NY, Philadelphia, PA, and Lancaster, PA, by collecting and distributing over 200,000 new items to homeless and disadvantaged children and adults - items such as diapers, toothpaste, underwear, hats, gloves, blankets, winter coats, teddy bears, sneakers, pencils, rosaries, bananas, and baby formula. Shannon also made it a point to involve her friends from Lancaster Catholic High School in projects so they could better understand the problem of homelessness themselves.
         Shannon earned national recognition from President Bush, a seat at the 2007 State of the Union speech, and the Sertoma Club’s 2008 International Service to Mankind Award.
         Christopher Awards program manager Tony Rossi says, “As the tenth anniversary of 9-11 approaches and the poor are faced with ever-growing needs, this is the perfect time to honor Shannon, who was only 11 years old when she started Mychal’s Message. She demonstrates that a young person with initiative, compassion, and the gospel message can accomplish great things.”

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