Local teens recognized for philanthropy

Staff photo by JAMES BEATYAlana Wynn, left, and Alexandria “Lexie” Lerblance, join McAlester Mayor Steve Harrison at City Hall on Tuesday night, where he proclaimed a special day in the two girls’ honor. Harrison honored the girls locally after Lerblance received the Prudential Spirit of Community Award as one of Oklahoma’s top two youth volunteers of 2015 and Wynn won honors from Prudential as one of four statewide finalists.

Two local teens who’ve received statewide and national recognition for their volunteer spirit in serving the community now both have a day named in their honor.

McAlester Mayor Steve Harrison recognized both by proclaiming April 28 as the Alexandria “Lexie” Lerblance and Alana Wynn Prudential Spirit of Community Recognition Day.

Lerblance is a winner of the Prudential Spirit of Community Award, recognizing her as one of Oklahoma’s top two youth volunteers for 2015.

Wynn is one of four statewide finalists for the Prudential Spirit of Community Award — prompting Harrison to note that McAlester had two of the six statewide Community Award winners honoring youth volunteers.

“That’s incredible,” Harrison said Thursday.

“McAlester has one-half of 1 percent of the population of Oklahoma and we got 33 percent of the winners.”

Speaking of the two teenagers’ generation, Harrison said “I think we’re in good hands.” 

Harrison read aloud from the two proclamations during the regular Tuesday night meeting of the McAlester City Council.

A surprising number of volunteers in communities across the nation are like Lerblance and Wynn, students who contribute their time without expectation of reward, other than the gratification that comes from helping others, Harrison said.

 Lerblance co-founded a non-profit organization with her mother, Ashley Lerblance, that has over the past four years donated almost $20,000 worth of wigs and other head coverings to approximately 150 cancer patients in an eight-county region.

Wynn has raised almost $40,000 to benefit the American Red Cross by creating and implementing the Red Cross Memorial Golf Tournament , a fundraiser to honor the important volunteer work of the Red Cross, Harrison noted.The annual benefit is held at the McAlester Country Club.

Both girls briefly addressed the city council after they were honored with the city proclamations.

“I started in 2010 after my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer,” Lexie Lerblance said. “It was hard for us to find wigs for her,” she said, referring to the hair loss that often accompanies cancer treatments.

That led her to co-found the charitable project to provide wigs, turbans, scarves and other items to those undergoing cancer treatments.

Taking her turn at the podium, Wynn recalled how she worked with the late John Lester of the American Red Cross to start the golf fundraiser.

“John Lester and I were really good friends and we’d always talked about starting a project of our own,” Wynn said. She started the American Red Cross fundraiser in 2010 and Wynn noted this will mark the fifth year for the event.

“This year it’s June 5,” Wynn told the city council. “You guys should come play some golf.”

Lerblance was presented with an engraved silver medallion at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City. Her selection as one of the state’s top two Prudential Spirit of Community Award winners also includes $1,000 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington D.C., where she will attend national recognition events.

While the winners are in Washington, 10 of the national honorees will be selected as the nation’s top youth volunteers for 2015.

Lerblance is the daughter of David and Ashley Lerblance, while Wynn is the daughter of Dr. Bill Wynn, DDS,  and the late Donnita Wynn, the former Pittsburg County special judge as well as a former District 18 district attorney. Wynn is editor of the Black & Gold magazine created by McAlester High School students in a collaborative effort with the McAlester News-Capital.

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