Pine Tree fifth-grader named semi-finalist for ‘Huggable Hero 'award

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:59

    Monroe - Jaclyn Williams, the young Pine Tree Elementary School girl who has raised thousands of dollars to help her disabled friend, is a semi-finalist in a national contest that honors kids who go the extra mile for others. The fifth-grader has been rewarded for her efforts and named a "Huggable Hero" semifinalist by the national Build-A-Bear workshop for "working with Locks of Love and raising money for local special needs individuals." Jacki cares little about the award, but will take the $35 gift certificate and donate it to the "Allison Murphy fund." She is most well known in the community for her love for her disabled 7-year-old friend, Allison Murphy. Jacki has held numerous fundraisers and donation drives to help the epileptic, legally blind girl who has cerebral palsy and is bound to a wheelchair. First, Jacki helped raise money to buy Allison a handicap-accessible play swing for her backyard. Most recently, Jacki has raising money to purchase Allison and her family a wheelchair friendly van to make life easier on the Monroe family. The latest count puts the total money raised at $9,600. This, after a Mary Kay fundraiser racked in more than $1,800 for the Allison's fund earlier this month. "It is humbling to see all the creative things children and teens are dong each day to make this a better world," said Maxine Clark, the founder and chief executive bear of Build-A-Bear Workshop. "We want to recognize, encourage and reward them for their efforts and achievements." Build-A-Bear Workshop has named 123 semifinalists in the U.S. and Canada. That number will be narrowed down to 29 finalists and then the final 12 "Huggable Heroes." The public is invited to vote for their favorite "Huggable Hero" at Jacki was nominated as a semi-finalist, Huggable Hero but Alba Williams, Jacki's mother, said she sent in a letter of recommendation for her daughter but it remains a mystery as to who nominated the Pine Tree student. "I don't know who nominated her," Alba Williams said. "I asked Allison's mom and she said, ‘No, but I was thinking about it, somebody beat me to it.'" For her part, Jacki would like to avoid the publicity. As her mother recalled Jacki telling her, "I don't like all the attention, Mommy." Still, there remains much work to do. In an interview last week, Alba Williams told this story: Jacki was playing a softball game and when the game ended, Jacki grabbed her homemade key chains and began selling them to her friends and those at the game. All the funds raised she puts directly into Allison's fund. "She just doesn't stop, she doesn't give up," Alba Williams said of her shy daughter who dislikes the attention her achievements and efforts have and are bringing her. But on a day when she is playing with Allison, Jacki has not a tint of shy in her selfless body. Earlier this month, the two participated in Monroe Clean Sweep together at Sacred Heart Church and the day after they went to an auto show, looking for the special van that Jacki hopes to purchase for Allison. Earlier this month she also sent in an application to the ABC network's Extreme Makeover: House Edition, in hopes that the home remodeling show will re-build Allison's home and make it more accessible for the 7-year-old girl. Although she has been featured several times in stories that have appeared in The Photo News and elsewhere, Jacki is generally reluctant to talk much about what she does or why she does with the press. But her mother recalled an experience she said demonstrates her daughter's steadfast ambitions. A friend asked Jacki her why she wants to help others. "Give me one reason why I shouldn't," the little girl answered.