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Abilene teen first to win Congressional Award in 13 years, receiving gold medal in D.C.

An Abilene teen will receive an award in Washington D.C. next week for her service to the community, among other noble achievements.

It is called a Congressional Award and it is a program where young people must complete a certain set of requirements for at least two years.

Elizabeth Walker, 18, has been volunteering at an Abilene soup kitchen ever since she was in the eighth grade.

Elizabeth is the first person in the 19th congressional district to receive the award in 13 years.

Volunteering has been a part of Elizabeth’s life ever since she was a young girl.

Elizabeth was home-schooled and graduated this year and on June 21, she will be in Washington D.C., where she will receive a gold medal as a part of the Congressional Award for her service in the Abilene community.

"I’ve always been very blessed in my life. Our family, we've had a lot of blessings, so it just feels like an honor to get to come and give my time to other people," Elizabeth said.

Elizabeth signed up for the Congressional Award program in 2015 because she said that she has a passion for serving others.

The requirements for the program include 400 hours of community service, 200 hours of personal development and 200 hours of physical fitness.

Elizabeth also had to complete a four- to five-day exploration expedition, in which she went cave diving.

Elizabeth’s mother Poppy Walker said that although the program had its requirements, Elizabeth was already doing community service, so they felt like the program was the right fit for her.

"The goal wasn't the award. It was 'hey, you're already doing these things, this seems like kind of a cool program and what a neat way to symbolize the accomplishment,'" Poppy said.

The Walker family dealt with difficult times after Elizabeth’s dad was diagnosed with stage four throat cancer.

"We've had some things that she could've quit this and justifiably so, but she stuck with it and this has been just such a great program for her," Walker said.

However, Poppy said that Elizabeth never gave up and that her hard work paid off.

Elizabeth said that after receiving her gold medal, she will continue serving in her community.

"I have a lot more understanding of other people because I get to work with all different kinds of people, so I would like to think that it's made me a better person," Elizabeth said.

Elizabeth and Poppy will be traveling to Washington D.C. on June 20 and Elizabeth will receive her gold medal on June 21.

For more information on the Congressional Award, their website can be visited at this link: http://congressionalaward.org/about/

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