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Champion for Children recognizes Carlyn Bobo's passion to serve

SEBRING — Among the seven finalists, Lake Placid High School senior Carlyn Bobo was the honored recipient of the 2023 Champion for Children Youth Award at the awards banquet held Thursday at First Sebring Church.

“It’s very honoring. I appreciate it a lot,” she said. “I am really glad to be serving the community and inspiring other people.”

Carissa Marine, CEO of the Champion for Children Foundation, said, “We have seven incredible servant-hearted students here tonight and to our students and finalists, we just want to say, thank you for serving others around you and thank you for coming here tonight and allowing us to celebrate you, encourage you and just honor you tonight.”

John Varady, with The School Board of Highlands County, said, “What you see tonight is just a small example of the good and these are just the brightest of those who are shining at this age. There are others like them around them and there are others younger than them who look up to them and that is amazingly special because that is amazingly powerful.”

Varady and Marine collaborated to establish the Champion for Children Youth Awards, which is modeled after the Champion for Children Judge Clifton M. Kelly Gala.

The other finalists were: Lake Country Elementary fourth-grader Preslee Greene, Sebring High sophomore Baxley Hines, Sebring High junior Paisley Karlson, Lake Placid High junior Iris Munoz, Lake Placid High senior Isabela Potter and Avon Park High senior Britney Sosa.

At the end of the program, Highlands Superintendent of Schools Brenda Longshore said, “My heart is full and overflowing. I have been so excited to get here today to celebrate our young people. You inspire us. You give us hope and such joy.”

Longshore added, “Those of us fortunate enough to spend time in our schools see examples of our county’s amazing youth every day and tonight was a wonderful opportunity to spotlight seven young people who have shown exceptional desire so serve even at a very young age. I thank you all for your efforts to make our community a better place.”

Her Youth Awards bio states that Carlyn is very involved in her school and community as a member of the Lake Placid High School cross country and track team. She is currently a lieutenant in the Highlands County Sheriff’s Explorers program.

Daniel Baker, secretary of the Florida Sheriff’s Explorer Association State Board, shared, “Lt. Bobo is a well-rounded, selfless, determined individual, intelligent and compassionate young woman. She selflessly served Highlands County in many capacities and is an exemplary model for future youth.”

Carlyn also serves as a counselor at Camp Joy, a special camp for adults and teens with disabilities. Darcia Munro, director of Camp Joy Florida, states, “Whether her siblings, classmates, or teammates, they can always depend on her for an extra set of hands, words of encouragement, and ways to improve in school and sports.”

Carlyn has overcome many obstacles in her life, including being born premature, weighing only 3.1 pounds. She is extremely goal-oriented and has a heart of gold. Others describe her love and passion for students with disabilities as heartwarming and much appreciated.

She is said to stand up for what is right even when it may not be popular with her peers. She’s described as a hard worker who will help others before herself. In March 2022, Carlyn and her youth group traveled to Louisiana to spend a week distributing household items and helping those who were severely impacted by Hurricane Ida.

Carlyn has been a runner and competitor since elementary school, and has big goals for herself including running the Boston Marathon in the spring. In addition to pushing herself as a runner, she also excels as a student, and plans on pursuing a degree in cyber security after high school.

Those who know Carlyn share that the thing that sets her apart is her willingness to put others first and offer help to them before she helps herself. She chooses to serve others because she believes “God put us on this earth to serve others and lift each other up.”

Beginning in 2019, The School Board of Highlands County partnered with the Champion for Children Foundation to create the Champion for Children Youth Award. The purpose of this is to recognize and honor the youth in the local community who demonstrate a servant’s heart and a desire to have a positive impact on the community and in the lives of others.

Wrecked Russian tank, skull and silence mark war anniversary

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — A wrecked Russian tank put on display in Berlin, a bloody cake with a skull on top of it left in a Belgrade street and Ukraine’s yellow-and-blue flag held aloft in the sizzling Bangkok sun were among the memorials, stunts and ceremonies held across the world Friday to mark the anniversary of Moscow’s full-scale invasion of its neighbor.

The rusting T-72 tank was placed outside the prominent Russian Embassy building on the German capital’s Unter den Linden boulevard.

The tank was struck in the Kyiv region in the early stages of the war, which began on Feb. 24, 2022. It was taken to Berlin by a private group, which said that the Ukrainian defense ministry’s Military History Museum loaned it. Destroyed Russian armor litters parts of Ukraine after months of battlefield setbacks for the Kremlin’s forces.

“The whole world should see that there are many people in Germany who stand behind Ukraine, so that’s why we’re putting the Russians’ scrap tank in front of their door,” said Wieland Giebel of the Berlin Story group, who was one of the exhibit’s organizers.

In Serbia, whose government has maintained friendly relations with Russia and has refused to join Western sanctions designed to punish Moscow for its invasion, police moved in to stop a group of anti-war activists from reaching the Russian Embassy in the capital, Belgrade.

The activists wanted to hand over a demand for Russian President Vladimir Putin to be put on trial for genocide in Ukraine. They left a cake, covered with red icing representing blood and with a skull on top of it, on the pavement near the embassy.

U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stepped outside his office at No. 10 Downing Street, joining Ukraine’s ambassador and some Ukrainian soldiers being trained in the United Kingdom for a minute’s silence in commemoration of those killed in the fighting.

King Charles III issued a message lauding the “remarkable courage and resilience” of the Ukrainian people.

A teenage Ukrainian pianist forced to flee her country with her mother when the war broke out gave a solo performance at a shopping mall in the city of Liverpool in northwest England.

Alisa Bushuieva, age 13, wore a traditional Ukrainian floral headband and dress as she played her country’s national anthem.

In Rome, peace quotations printed on jute bags were displayed as part of an installation by Italian artist Gianfranco Meggiato entitled “The Meeting: The Symbol of Peace.”

Moscow planned no special events for Friday, as most Russians took a nationwide day off amid an extended public holiday. As part of authorities’ relentless effort to prevent any sign of dissent, police in some areas visited activists’ homes to warn them against trying to stage any demonstrations.

The commemorations of a grim year for Ukraine spread as far as Asia.

Peace rallies were held in Tokyo and Seoul, and people placed flowers outside the Ukrainian consulate in Bali, Indonesia in tribute to those killed in the war.

Ukrainians living in Thailand gathered outside their embassy in Bangkok. About 50 people, many wearing their national colors, sang the national anthem as an embassy official raised the flag. Several wept during a speech by the embassy’s charge d’affaires, in which he urged them to stay strong.

Iliana Martsenyak, originally from the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, which has been pummeled by Russian barrages, wiped tears from her eyes as she spoke of how the anniversary made her feel.

“Honestly, I cannot find any words to describe how me and every single Ukrainian feels today because of this absolutely irrational, cruel and awful war that has been brought to our land,” she said.

The group marched to a nearby city park, holding Ukrainian flags and protest signs aloft. They stopped at the library of Lumpini park, largely in silence as a mother embraced her young daughter and others stared resolutely into the distance.

Some of the anniversary commemorations began Thursday evening, when the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Portuguese parliament building in Lisbon were lit up in the colors of the Ukrainian flag. The Sydney Opera House followed suit on Friday.

A vigil took place in London’s Trafalgar Square, organized by the Ukrainian and U.S. embassies, and 461 paper angels were hung from the roof of the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in London to commemorate each Ukrainian child that has died in the past year.

Other events were scheduled for later Friday across Europe.

AP journalists around the world contributed to this report.

Florida Talks speaker series starts Sunday

AVON PARK — The Historical Society of Avon Park is partnering with the Heartland Cultural Alliance and Florida Humanities to present a series of entertaining history-based talks.

The speakers have been chosen from the Speakers Bureau of Florida Talks, one of Florida Humanities’ longest-running programs.

The talks will be held in the Avon Park Community Center at 3 p.m. and are being offered to the community at no charge.

“The Fighting Baileys” is the first topic to be presented by speaker James Abraham on Sunday, Feb. 26.

During World War II and the Korean War, seven brothers from a black Punta Gorda family served overseas. Yet, the family received no acclaim for over 50 years for their exploits.

From a high-flying Tuskegee airman to a grunt in the Red Ball Express, the Bailey brothers’ struggles in a Jim Crow south speak to the hidden and ongoing struggle to accord Black Americans their place in the military.

On March 26, “Fabulous, Feisty Florida Females: More Than Orange Blossoms” will be presented by Carrie Sue Ayvar.

Though not always in the history books, women have helped build, form, shape, and develop Florida. Stories of strong, courageous women like Julia Tuttle, known as the Mother of Miami, or Mary McCleod Bethune, daughter of enslaved parents who went on to become an advisor to several U.S. presidents, and other brave women have influenced and impacted their communities, Florida, and the nation.

On April 23, Craig Pittman presents “The State You’re In: Florida Men, Florida Women, and Other Wildlife.”

Over the past 30 years, Pittman has written thousands of stories and columns about “The Most Interesting State.”

Based on 51 of these stories, he shows off the glorious weirdness of his native state. Stories of mermaids, con men, fugitives, gator “wrasslers,” death row inmates, iguanas, tattooed ladies, python hunters, and more are covered in this illustrated and lively presentation about Florida men, Florida women and more.

Historical Society President Nancy Fisk said this is the second year of getting a grant from Florida Humanities for the Florida Talks program.

After last year’s talks, those who attended were sent a survey so they could suggest topics for this year, she said.

“The topics I chose this year are things that were chosen by those folks who attended the lectures,” Fisk said.

RV catches fire in Avon Park Lakes

AVON PARK — Highlands County Fire Rescue put out a recreational vehicle fire Friday afternoon at a home on Taunton Road in Avon Park Lakes.

It was the second time in less than a week that a resident at a Highlands County rural address had an RV catch fire.

The previous incident was Monday, on Holiday Beach Drive in Little Lake Red Water Estates. That fire took two engines and two tankers to control.

Fortunately, neither incident had injuries, and Friday’s incident only took two engines and one tanker. Rescue units and command staff also responded.

The fire started at or shortly after 1 p.m., with reports that a 24-foot recreational vehicle had caught fire at the corner of Taunton and Corvallis Roads.

Before fire crews could get it under control, the fire destroyed the RV, burning it down to its chassis, and scorched a 100-foot-radius patch, which reached and damaged another vehicle, a red Mazda.

Highlands County’s Public Information Office reported that someone was there at the time, but it’s unknown if anyone was working on the RV at the time, as was the case on Monday. The cause is unknown and under investigation.

Highlands County Fire Rescue Engine 7 and Tanker 9 responded to the site, along with Rescue 4-2. Avon Park City Fire Engine 5 also arrived to assist, and HCFR Battalion Chief 1, Division Chief 1 and Chief 4 also responded.

Highlands News-Sun Correspondent John Lawson contributed to this story.