Local student places second at statewide Veterans of Foreign Wars Voice of Democracy essay contest

The Department of Pennsylvania Veterans of Foreign Wars recently celebrated the patriotism of Pennsylvania’s young people during its annual Voice of Democracy banquet in Carlisle.
Huntingdon Christian Academy Sophomore Kristin Bigelow—the regional winner of VFW District 17 and Post 1754 in Huntingdon and its Auxiliary—was chosen as the Pennsylvania VOD champion out of 24 district winners and a total of 3,800 students who entered local post contests.
A resident of Williamsburg, Bigelow won a $5,000 college scholarship from the Department of Pennsylvania VFW and an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. where she will compete for a national $25,000 scholarship and meet the president during a White House tour. In her winning essay addressing the theme of “Freedom’s Challenge,” she wrote, “Many people have answered freedom’s challenge. Our veterans went through so much pain and suffering for us… The rest of us owe it to them to finish the fight, and face the challenge (of preserving freedom).”
Rounding out the top five finishers were: (second through fifth) Tyrone High School Senior Alexis Pazmino, winner of District 22 and Post 4559 in Tyrone and Auxiliary ($4,000 scholarship); Margaret Hebda of Franklin, a junior home-schooled student representing District 19 and Post 464 in Oil City and Auxiliary ($3,000); Rochester High School Senior Cory Gallagher, District 25 and Post 128 in Rochester and Auxiliary ($2,400); and Greenville High School Junior Landis Erwin, District 28 and Post 3374 in Greenville and Auxiliary ($2,000).
The 22nd District is very honored Pazmino received second place honors in the contest. She was sponsored by Tyrone VFW Post 4559 and its ladies auxiliary. The commander is Rodger Couch and Alice Ewing is the auxiliary president. Charles Boyd is the Post VOD Chairman. Gary and Alice Anders are the district chairmen.
Alexis is the daughter of Ruth Pazmino of Tyrone and Roy Pazmino of Philipsburg.
Statewide, the Pennsylvania VFW awarded $150,000 in scholarships and contest support to students at the post, district and state levels in the 2006 contest and more than $1 million since the State Department of VFW hosted the contest. The PA event is part of the national VOD program celebrating its 59th anniversary. Students should contact their local VFW post to enter the 2007 contest.
Consisting of 125,000 members in 580 local posts, Pennsylvania is the largest state department of the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization. VFW posts and auxiliaries provide $2.5 million in college scholarships to high school students every year. These groups perform more than 15 million hours of community service annually. In Pennsylvania, VFW organizations donate more than $11 million in financial donations and volunteer community service each year.