Group honors top advocates for foster children

Tampa, Florida -- Foster kids with incredible stories, who have now become leaders in the Bay Area, were the stars of an awards event Thursday night in Tampa.

Florida's Children First -- a nonprofit that works to help fix problems in Florida's foster care system -- organized the presentation.

Florida's Children First also trains foster kids across the state to become young leaders through a program called Florida Youth SHINE.

10 News is proud to help recognize this group of people doing amazing work for kids here in Tampa Bay. 10 News reporter Grayson Kamm emceed the event through our 10 Community program.

Guest speaker Rep. Janet Cruz spoke about the many lawmakers in Tallahassee who make children's issues a priority.

Honorees during the event included:

Jessica Rae - Child Advocate Award

Jessica has volunteered countless hours, traveling the state, to make sure foster children had an attorney during legal hearing about their future.

Jessica Overstreet - Youth Advocate Award

Jessica is a former foster child, and now a key part of the growing Florida Youth SHINE leadership program and Foster Angels, a group that makes sure foster kids have holiday gifts.

Shadai Simmons - Youth Advocate Award

As a child, Shadai was addicted to crack cocaine and locked up in maximum security detention. She found placement in the foster system and reshaped her life. She's now a loving mother and mentor.

Daniel Pettus - Youth Advocate Award

After a tumultuous childhood in and out of foster care, Daniel Pettus was homeless as a young adult, sleeping in his gym with a boxing glove as a pillow. He's now become a professional MMA fighter and a statewide advocate for kids in the foster system.

The law offices of Shook, Hardy & Bacon in Downtown Tampa hosted the event, which raised tens of thousands of dollars for Florida's Children First.


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