Las Vegas Teen Wins $1000 and Dum Dums for Helping Local Foster Kids
Heather Wilder is the nation's youth winner in Dum Dum Pops® "Make Life a Little Sweeter" contest.
Heather's books will be distributed to every Clark County foster child.
Bryan, OH October 30, 2006:
Heather Wilder is one sweet 13 year old. So sweet, in fact, that she has won a $1,000 cash prize and thousands of Dum Dum Pops lollipops! Her kindness has touched the lives of thousands of foster children in Clark County, as she shares her story so their story can have a happy ending, too.
The Las Vegas girl is the youth winner in a nationwide search by Spangler Candy Company in Bryan, Ohio, for those whose small acts of kindness make a big difference to others. The contest was to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the candy company this year, and the way Dum Dum Pops, the company's flagship brand, have been making life a little sweeter for generations. She was nominated by her adoptive mother, Tammy Wilder.
Once a foster child herself, Heather has turned her experiences into a tool to help other foster kids cope, educate them about the process and empower them with information about their rights.
Heather cycled for many years through foster care and reunification with her family until she could eventually be adopted by Tammy, her foster mother for several years. To help her deal with the impact this has had on her, Tammy, a single mother and fifth grade teacher, thought writing would help.
Tammy explained, "When Heather came to me, she was going to counseling and therapy, and was in many special programs for her range of emotional and behavioral issues. I suggested she write down her thoughts and feelings about all of these things. She really did a lot of writing, and we realized her words could help other kids. We developed them into little booklets which we gave to her social worker to hand out to others in her caseload." Some of Heather's titles are "Heather's Hurts," "What is a Social Worker?" and "Moving from House to House."
Eventually, attorneys at Clark County Legal Services, who volunteer their services for foster kids in the county, came across Heather's booklets and have decided to compile them into one, 15-page book and print 1,500 copies to distribute to every child in the Clark County system.
But that's not where Heather's kindness ends. Last year, the little girl and her mother held a holiday toy drive and collected over 1,300 toys for area foster kids. This year, the two hope to collect 1,700 toys to distribute. In every gift bag Heather will share the thousands of Dum Dum Pops that are part of her prize. In addition, she will donate half of her $1,000 back to the foster kids, saving the other half for her trip next spring to Disney World.
Tammy nominated Heather "because she is a sweet little girl" and hopes Heather's success story can help other kids. Tammy explained, "There are a lot of other kids in the system getting older, and by 9 or 10 years old it is difficult to find them adoptive parents because of their list of problems." She added, "People need to know that kids are kids, and until they can live the life of a normal kid, they can't become normal. Their needs have to be met. With Heather's books, maybe she can guide them in knowing their rights so they can have the same opportunity for a normal life as she has."
Heather said about winning, "It has helped me to see I am doing the right things and it makes me feel all good inside, like I've done something really amazing!"
In business since 1906, Spangler Candy Company makes about 8 million Dum Dum Pops® a day and more candy canes than anyone in the world. Spangler Candy's line of quality confections includes Dum Dum Pops® , Saf-T-Pops® , Circus Peanuts and Marshmallow Treats, Spangler® Candy Canes and Cane Classics®, Dum Dum® Candy Canes, Jelly Belly® Candy Canes, and Valentine, Easter, Halloween & Christmas candies. Spangler also manufactures candy under the Disney® license.
For information, contact Spangler Candy Company at 1-888-636-4221, or visit our websites: www.spanglercandy.com, www.dumdumpops.com, and www.saftpops.com. Jelly Belly® is a registered trademark of Jelly Belly Candy Company. ©Disney.