INDIANAPOLIS – The Indianapolis NBA All-Star Host Committee announced today they have awarded 21 members of the class of 2021 as Indianapolis NBA All-Star Rising Stars in association with the NBA All-Star Legacy Grants awarded last February. This award includes a $2,100 scholarship for each Rising Star payable to the college, university or postsecondary institution they attend after high school graduation.
As previously announced, due to public health conditions, Indianapolis NBA All-Star, which was originally scheduled for Feb. 12-14, 2021, will now be held Feb. 16-18, 2024. Despite the festivities being pushed to 2024, the Indianapolis NBA All-Star Host Committee committed to completing the 21 Legacy Grant projects and recognizing these deserving 21 Rising Stars.
"These 21 high school seniors selected as Rising Stars each demonstrate leadership in their schools and communities," said Rick Fuson, Founding Chairman, Indianapolis NBA All-Star Board of Directors and President and Chief Operating Officer, Pacers Sports & Entertainment. "They exemplify strong ideals, a drive to excel and commitment to serving others and we are honored to recognize them as they continue their postsecondary education."
The $1 million Indianapolis NBA All-Star Legacy Grants focus on youth-serving nonprofit organizations across Indiana. The initiative provided 21 grants up to $50,000 for brick-and-mortar projects focused on health and wellness or education with an estimated impact on 90,000 youth statewide.
Each of the 21 Legacy Grantees nominated several high school-aged Rising Stars for their project. From those nominees, the Indianapolis NBA All-Star Legacy Committee, a sub-committee of the Host Committee, selected one Rising Star for each of the 21 Legacy Grants to receive this honor and scholarship. The Indianapolis Host Committee plans to include these Rising Stars in activities related to NBA All-Star 2024 in Indianapolis as well.
The Indianapolis NBA All-Star Rising Stars Class of 2021 include:
For more information on the Indianapolis NBA All-Star Legacy Grants announced in February 2020, click HERE.
Indianapolis NBA All-Star Rising Stars Class of 2021 - Individual Descriptions
A Kid Again
Meg Kirk, Danville Community High School (Danville, IN)
At Meg Kirk's core is a devotion to putting the needs of others far ahead of her own. Her big heart is especially visible within the Indiana Chapter of A Kid Again – a national organization centered on fostering hope, happiness and healing for children with life-threatening illnesses – where she has volunteered the past two years.
"Meg Kirk truly is a rising star," beams Katie Pappas, Executive Director of A Kid Again-Indiana Chapter. "It is clear Meg is passionate about helping others and takes a leadership role in school and in her community. She's creative, fun, and engaging with our families and guests, and the best part is she always has a smile on her face."
Meg has attended nearly every Adventure that A Kid Again has conducted. These "Adventures" are opportunities to be "a kid again" with time away from the hospital in a group experience with the whole family to a local destination to help the well-being of everyone affected. She is also the organization's go-to person for social media support, helping raise the program's profile.
Meg also stands out within Danville High School. She is a member of the National Honor Society, Student Council Secretary, helps in the school office, is an Honor Roll student, and mentors other students as part of PACE – a dropout prevention program for students who are at-risk of not graduating from high school.
She is a member of the school tennis team, varsity swimmer and a certified lifeguard. You'll also find Meg volunteering at school prom and homecoming, the school's safe trick-or-treat Halloween event, its driver's education safe driver's simulation class, and the annual incoming freshman school spirit and orientation program.
Agape Therapeutic Riding Resources, Inc.
Macy Huber, Greenfield Central High School (Greenfield, IN)
Agape prides itself on several high-character values. Principles such as excellence in service, trust, respect, creativity, acceptance, collaboration, patience and kindness are among the personas that make up "The Agape Way." The therapeutic riding organization praises Macy Huber as embodying them all.
"Macy is a humble leader," said an administrator from the Greenfield school system. "She steps in to help others, putting others before herself and helping them reach their goals. She has a pay it forward mentality and inspires others to do the same.
At Greenfield Central High School, Macy has been active with the Student Leader Academy, Interact Club where she currently serves as president, as a four-year soccer player and as a member of the bowling team. She also currently serves as president for the Mayor's Youth Council.
Macy also started a local program and fundraiser with a women's shelter and recovery
House where she collected donated goods to teach the house residents how to make necklaces and jewelry. She then worked alongside the residents to help them sell them, resulting in $500 in sales.
As evidenced by her activities, Macy loves to bring people together for collective good by connecting local businesses to philanthropy opportunities. For her efforts, she is known by many for her generosity.
Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence County
Emma Landstrom, Bedford North Lawrence High School (Bedford, IN)
Already as a young adult Emma Landstrom has mastered the art of caring for others while also effectively teaching young people important life skills. Frank Decker is the chief professional officer at the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence County and he describes a time when Emma's talents were showcased at his facility.
"Emma was instrumental leading our Chef's Hat Program teaching kids how to prepare simple meal," said Decker. "Her efforts positioned them to go home and safely feed themselves and in some cases their families."
She is also a regular volunteer with several other programs at the Club such as the Smart Girls Club that inspires young girls to set goals and go after their dreams, as well as Club's largest annual fundraisers. Emma's efforts resulted in her recently being named Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence County's nominee for Youth of the Year Award among all Boys & Girls Club of Indiana chapters.
Around the holidays Emma can be found volunteering to raise money for The Salvation Army as a bell ringer.
At Bedford North Lawrence High School Emma is active in the Art Club with an emphasis on stained glass and darkroom photography, Pep Club, and Beta Club which promotes the ideals of academic achievement, character, leadership and service among school-age students.
"Emma is a very caring teen that has touched the lives of so many, especially those who are vulnerable and less likely to have the skills to help themselves when needed," concluded Decker.
Boys & Girls Club of Noblesville
Chayse Hunter, Noblesville High School (Noblesville, IN)
Since middle school, Chayse Hunter has been an engaged member of the Boys & Girls Club of Noblesville. A natural leader, he is often found helping to lead projects for the Club including neighborhood clean-ups and food drives.
Chayse's leadership skills are on full display at Noblesville High School where he serves as secretary of Torch Club and president of Keystone Club. Both of these clubs are character leadership building clubs that require members who hold office to be voted in by their peers and to be in good academic standing prior to running.
Chayse's nominator Abigail Stutesman from the Boys and Girls Club of Noblesville said, "Chase is thoughtful and has a unique ability to find the similarities allowing him to relate to all. These qualities give a comfort to his peers that disarm their insecurities and open their willingness to listen."
After graduation Chayse would like to study welding and engineering.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana
Jamarion Evans, Oliver P. Morton High School (Hammond, IN)
Jamarion has been a fixture around the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Indiana since 2015. His dedication is readily visible lending a hand at the front desk, mentoring members, and helping to oversee programming. He was recently nominated for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Indiana annual Youth of the Year Award.
"Jamarion is a bright young man with a bright future ahead of him," said Dylan McKee, the club's director of external affairs. "Jamarion loves to encourage younger members to be the best version of themselves."
Jamarion has also been active with After School Matters, a Chicago-based community outreach initiative that provides teens the opportunity to explore their passions and develop their talents through after school and summer programs. At Oliver P. Morton High School in Hammond, Jamarion is active in the drama club and school choir.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Marshall County
Lindsey Weldon, Plymouth High School (Plymouth, IN)
Lindsey has been a beacon in her community for as long as people can remember. Since age 10 she has been an active member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Marshall County and is currently an officer in its Keystone Club, a national BGCA program that provides leadership development opportunities for youth in focus areas of academic success, career preparation and public service.
"Lindsey is a thoughtful, caring and compassionate person that is always willing to lend a helping hand," said Bill Deering, Boys & Girls Clubs of Marshall County director of athletics and building maintenance.
At Plymouth High School Lindsey is active in Future Teachers of America, a national program open to students who have an interest in teaching as a career, as well as school theater and music programs, Art Club, Pep Club, Key Club, Dance Marathon in support of Riley Hospital for Children, is a member of the National Honor Society and the school's Distinguished Honor Roll. She has also been a member of the softball and volleyball teams.
Around her community, Lindsey is active in civic theater and various musical performances, and routinely volunteers at community festivals and sporting events helping park cars and sell concessions.
Chances and Services for Youth
Sophie Boyll, Terre Haute South Vigo High School (Terre Haute, IN)
Sophie Boyll embraces the moniker of role model and puts it into practice regularly as an active member of the Big Brothers Big Sisters arm of Chances and Services for Youth. She stands out in an organization dedicated to promoting child health and safety, providing early childhood and school age education, building family and community, and strengthening youth decision making.
During the academic year Sophie is a regular at a local elementary school multiple times each month mentoring her BBBS Little Sister.
During the holidays Sophie volunteers with a gift drive that provides presents for underprivileged elementary school children.
At Terre Haute South Vigo High School Sophie is a member of the Tribe Club which leads school activity fundraising, as well as helps organize and drive school spirit at sporting events.
"Sophie is very community minded and aspires for greatest," says BBBS program coordinator Emily Freeman. "She is very determined and motivated to help others in the community and shows leadership skills in our mentoring program."
Concord Neighborhood Center
Elijah Linden, Decatur Central High School (Indianapolis, IN)
While today he plays as a member of the Decatur Central High School varsity basketball team, Elijah Linden first discovered his love for basketball at the Concord Neighborhood Center. Elijah grew up in Concord's gym where he learned to dribble a basketball on the carpeted floor of the gymnasium.
In 2019, Elijah returned to the center in a different role--as a day camp counselor. This renewed dedication to the center came at a hard, but serendipitous, time for the honor student as his youngest brother was battling leukemia. Concord gave Elijah the support system he needed and Elijah shined in this leadership role.
"Elijah watched as his brother spent the summer in intensive care, struggling to respond to the chemotherapy and fighting through its vicious side effects," said Lynn Rogers, Concord Neighborhood Center. "During the day, Concord's gym was a safe, familiar space,"
Elijah aspires to attend college where he wants to major in business. After college he hopes to find new ways to continue to give back to the neighborhood, the center, and his family who have given him so much.
Dream Center Evansville
Ashlyn Johnson, Evansville North High School (Evansville, IN)
"A warm personality, positive attitude, excellent work ethic, scholarship, and leadership embody the character of Ashlyn Johnson," says her school principal John Skinner. Her commitment to the entire Evansville community supports that glowing endorsement.
While maintaining a 3.78 GPA at Evansville North High School among several honors and dual credit classes, Ashlyn shines as a cheerleader and on the track team as well as Student Leadership Athletic Council. She is also part of the school's Science Show – a traveling lab of student scientists that visit area elementary and junior high schools with the goal of helping foster interest in science among young students. In addition, Ashlyn is part of the local chapter of national leadership organization TEENPower that addresses relevant social issues with the intent of affecting positive change.
In her community Ashlyn participates in the YWCA Women of Empowerment Program which is designed to help women of color overcome barriers to starting, growing, and sustaining businesses while providing them with educational tools to increase their knowledge and confidence as entrepreneurs. She is also active in Dance Marathon in support of Riley Hospital for Children, Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure®, and volunteers at a local dance studio.
After high school Ashlyn plans to study in the medical field or business.
Duneland Family YMCA
Kayla Harris, Chesterton High School (Chesterton, IN)
Whether through her dancing or other art forms, Kayla Harris is leaving a lasting impression on her community as a leader and mentor. She has been ballroom dancing since the 6th Grade and competes regularly. When not on stage, Kayla's grace and fluidity also extend to the canvas where she loves to draw.
Kayla is a member of the Chesterton High School Show Choir, and in the community she is an active volunteer with the Chesterton-Duneland Kiwanis, Duneland Chamber, and Chesterton Art Fair. You will see her each summer displaying her art at the Hooked on Art Festival in support of the Chesterton-Porter Rotary. Kayla recently started a research campaign to help raise money for Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and she participates in its annual walk to raise money and awareness.
Her talents were fostered at a young age by the Duneland Family YMCA where she attended preschool, its after school care program and summer camp. Today she is an active Y volunteer and camp counselor. Not surprisingly, Kayla also helps each year with the Y's Dancing Like The Stars annual fundraiser.
"Kayla is an accomplished, caring young woman and a role model to other young people through her leadership and service to the community," said Duneland Family YMCA's Dave Kasarda.
Kayla aspires to be an environmental scientist where she will use her knowledge and influence to lobby for a better environment for her community and the world.
Friends of Historic Vernon
Raul Antonio Ruiz, Jennings County High School (North Vernon, IN)
A caring, outgoing personality woven into the fabric of a small Indiana community is what many commonly conjure as the vision and definition of Hoosier Hospitality. It is this depiction that embodies Raul Antonio Ruiz.
Volunteering at a North Vernon, Indiana homeless shelter and being a frequent and familiar face at a local food pantry are sizable contributions from Raul Antonio in his community of fewer than 10,000.
But it is Raul Antonio's efforts with a special program at Jennings County High School that have really made an impression with his peers and school leadership. Raul Antonio is active with Hope Squad, a school-based peer support program that empowers students to take action to prevent suicide through partnership with their local mental health agency. Members are trained how to identify at-risk students, provide friendship, and seek help from an adult.
He is also active at school in sports as a member of the basketball, football and track teams.
"Raul Antonio is an all-around great kid. He cares about people and wants to give back to his community," summarizes Friends of Historic Vernon President Amber Fields.
Hawthorne Community Center
Izac Stewart, Decatur Central High School (Indianapolis, IN)
This Hawthorne Community Center Rising Star recipient has taken his passion for sports to the next level. Izac Stewart is a standout student athlete at Decatur Central High School where he has participated in varsity football, basketball and baseball. Izac has also participated in the Hawthorne Center's annual youth basketball tournament since a very young age.
While sports are a passion for Izac, his nominator describes his ultimate hopes for the future. "He went from a little boy that always wanted the ball for himself to a young man willing to work and cooperate as part of a team," said Anthony Christou, school age program coordinator, Hawthorne Community Center. "His passion for sports is only matched by his passion for entrepreneurship."
Izac is just as passionate about buying and selling sneakers and hopes to turn this into a business venture in the future. Anthony said Izac will do just that as he is intelligent, resourceful, and an inspiration.
Indy Public Safety Foundation
Felipe Gonzalez, Arsenal Technical High School (Indianapolis, IN)
Felipe Gonzalez has shown incredible leadership, compassion and an uncommon drive to be successful as evidenced by his work with Arsenal Tech's Career Technical Education (CTE) Fire Rescue Program. As a captain in the program, he conducted monthly, IPS/Tech mandated fire drills where he displayed leadership as seen in seasoned firefighters.
With his leadership, fire drills were completed in under 10 minutes. This includes coordinating the efforts of search teams, performing as the incident commander in communications, and supervising the evacuation and reentry of the students. While conducting ground ladder drills where the students had to carry, throw, and climb 28' extension ladders, Felipe led the way with guidance and confidence, providing helpful instruction or encouragement along the way.
"He is a shining star in the program," said Dane Nutty, Indy Public Safety Foundation. "Felipe's efforts are never less than 100%. He leads with his demeanor and in class he is attentive, participative and engaged. With his pleasant and likable demeanor, Felipe's attitude is contagious. He is respectful and other students hold him in high regard especially as a model student in the CTE program."
Felipe has also worked in the community, participating in the Woodruff Place community clean-up project and as a team member at Chipotle.
Dorothy Pettet, Danville Community High School (Danville, IN)
Dorothy Pettet has a passion for making a difference in her community. Since 2015, Dorothy has been involved with Jameson Camp. She first participated in the Youth Leadership Program and then four years later continued her service and work with Jameson Camp in a staff position.
Her nominator, Andrea Groves, said, "Throughout her years she showed an outstanding ability to put the needs of others before her own, exemplified compassion to some of the most challenging youth we work with, and exhibited a passion for using her strengths and abilities to make a difference with each camper, peer, or parent that crosses her path."
The leadership and mentorship Dorothy displays at Jameson Camp translates to other areas of her life. At Danville Community High School she is a member of the CARE Club, Social Justice Club and the National Honor Society. Upon graduation she hopes to earn a degree that will lead her to work in Early Childhood Education, with a focus in working in low-income communities.
Jay County Boys Club
Sophia Fugiett, Jay County High School (Portland, IN)
Sophia Fugiett is running circles around her peers as a standout student-athlete and in her community. As a member of the Jay County High School track and field and cross country teams her accomplishments are vast and include sectional champion, multiple years as team captain, MVP, and various mental attitude and other leadership awards.
She helps set the pace in the classroom, too, as an honor roll student and is active on Student Council, National Honor Society, and as a member of DECA which prepares emerging young adults to be leaders and entrepreneurs in college and post-high school in areas of management, finance and other business fields.
Within Sophia's rural community of Redkey, Indiana, she is the current president of her local 4H Club chapter and a Future Farmers of America advocate and delegate to the State and National FFA Conventions. Throughout high school Sophia also has volunteered in the libraries of two area elementary schools, Scholastic Book Fair, Junior League, United Way, and with an annual local holiday craft show.
Knightstown Kids Inc.
Sam Thomas, Knightstown High School (Knightstown, IN)
There are very few activities that Sam Thomas has not tried and excelled at. The Knightstown High School student has been involved in many sports including football, wrestling and track. Additionally, he is a member of the History Club, National Honor Society and French Club, where he currently serves as president. He has also served as a member of the Panther Athletic Council.
Sam's nominator, William Gorman from Knightstown Kids said, "Sam is an outstanding young man who is well respected by teachers and students alike. He is extremely active in both the school and community and can be counted on to complete any task and go out of his way to help others."
His involvement continues outside of school. Sam is active in community clean-ups in Knightstown, youth football camp and Special Olympics events with basketball and track. He has also participated in the Cub Club afterschool watch program and worked in concession stand sales for several sports.
L & A Park Foundation (Libby & Abby)
Megan Kelly, Delphi Community High School (Delphi, IN)
Megan Kelly is the complete package as the Rising Star representative of the L & A Park Foundation based on her academic, athletic and community service accomplishments. At Delphi Community High School, Megan is a member of the volleyball, softball and cross country teams. She is a member of the National Honor Society and Student Council. Megan is also active within SADD, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and Rotary Interact which is a service club for youth focused on serving their communities.
Outside of school Megan is extremely active. Volunteer and fundraising activities include helping at a local animal shelter and serving as a Salvation Army bell ringer. Megan also volunteers with her church's Vacation Bible School program, its annual carnival fundraiser and regularly attends mission trips.
Megan's long-term aspirations are to pursue a post-graduate degree in Occupational Therapy with a specialty in pediatric clients with special needs.
Rylan Mason, Anderson High School (Anderson, IN)
While still a student at Anderson High School, Rylan Mason is already giving back to her community in so many ways. Outside of her work with Project H.O.P.E., she also volunteers her time in a number of places including the Anderson Black Expo, Nurse Family Partnership, the Christian Center Homeless Shelter and at the annual James L. Warner Thanksgiving meal.
Her nominator, Benjamin Santiago from Project H.O.P.E. said, "Rylan is an outstanding leader within our community. She has set academic and life goals and has not wavered in her diligence and hard work to achieve those goals."
Rylan's activities at school also include cheering on the varsity squad and four years on the volleyball team. She's also a member of the varsity track team and sings in the school choir. Her honors during high school include being a platinum scholar and more recently as a gold scholar. Her dedication to her academics is evidenced in her receiving Honor Roll grades since the first grade.
Turnstone Center for Children and Adults with Disabilities
Zaire Hayes, Snider High School (Fort Wayne, IN)
Service with a smile sums up Zaire Hayes. Amid the rigors of balancing strong academics, success in athletics in multiple sports and other school activities, and giving back to his community, Zaire does it all with an enviable upbeat attitude and personality.
Zaire serves his teachers by maintaining a 4.2/4.0 GPA within a curriculum featuring several Advance Placement classes.
He serves his school as a percussionist in the band, as a member of the Snider High School football and track teams, and as a member of the National Honor Society and Student Council. He also represented his school at last year's Men of Excellence Conference which empowers male students and assists them by providing the skills necessary to mature positively, both socially and academically.
Zaire serves his community as a local canned food drive volunteer every year and as a volunteer with a 7-on-7 youth football program.
"Zaire is a true leader," says Alex Harvey, his school guidance counselor. "He continually completes 12-hour days that consist of school, practice, homework and he still finds time to volunteer – all with a smile. I am so impressed by him and feel blessed to know him."
Washington County Family YMCA
Khloe Mull, Salem High School (Salem, IN)
If you are looking for Khloe Mull chances are you'll find her out and about in the community or at Salem High School. There doesn't seem to be much idle time for this standout student, athlete, employee and community citizen.
At school Khloe plays basketball, and off the court she is a member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Spanish Club, the theater program, Booster Club, Science Club, National Honor Society, and Tri-Hi-Y a young women's leadership club. She is a past participant in the National History Day competition.
As a member of Salem High's Student Council, Khloe has volunteered for The American Red Cross blood drives, community canned food drives, teacher appreciation breakfasts, and various community cleanup initiatives.
At the Washington County Family YMCA, Khloe is an employee and volunteers with Child Watch Camps, Healthy Kids Day, multiple 5K runs, Halloween at the Y programs.
"Khloe is caring, kind and is a role model to so many," says Chelsey Miller, Youth First Director at the Washington County Family YMCA. "She shows up putting her best foot forward. She has wonderful relationships with our families and students, who are excited to see her."
At her church Khloe helps with Vacation Bible School and in the past helped collect donations of socks and shoes for various organizations in need.
White's Residential & Family Services
Alexander Farr, Southwood High School (Wabash, IN)
Alexander is a standout student-athlete in baseball, basketball and football at Southwood High School. Within the Wabash community Alexander has been part of a home-building initiative with Heartland Career Center, a vocational education cooperative program that serves students.
He has also given of himself through mission trips to Alabama as well as to Santiago, Dominican Republic.
Metropolitan School District Superintendent Mike Keaffaber said, "I am nominating Alexander because of his leadership at school and on the field of play, and his maturity and others-centered outlook."