Gavin Clay – Inspired Youth 2021 Award Recipient

“When Gavin found out his classmate, DJ Patterson, was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, he wanted to do something to help,” said Krista Clay, Gavin’s mother. “He researched organizations that donate or help with research for pediatric cancers and decided on St. Baldrick’s. He liked the fact that the organization is primarily run by volunteers and felt very compelled to join this particular organization so that he could shave his head in solidarity with DJ and all the other children going through cancer treatments.”

In the past three years, Gavin and his teammates have helped raise over $30K for St. Baldrick’s Foundation.

Gavin is thirteen, in seventh grade at West Branch Middle School, and lives with his parents, Krista and Corey, and his younger siblings, Ashton and Sutton. He enjoys participating in many sports including soccer, golf, swimming, track and is a member of the middle school student council and participates in theatre productions (faves include Aladdin, Frozen and Annie). Gavin also volunteers with his church, St. Stephen Martyr Lutheran Church in Canton (landscaping, serving breakfast, vacation bible school, a mission trip and nativity play), and through the MAD (Make a Difference) chapter at his school.

He was nominated for this award by his mother because of his past three years of work with St. Baldricks Foundation, raising donations for childhood cancer research. “The first year I signed up to raise money, I set the goal at $500, and raised around $2,000,” said Gavin. “You set the goal, sign people up to your team, have them pick to be a volunteer who helps or someone who shaves their head, and raises awareness to the cause. It’s a lot of hard work. Often, we speak at public events, pass out pamphlets, or create events to support the cause. “

Gavin has recruited many people to be on his team, including his family, classmates, teachers, local police and fire departments and mayors. He has been inspirational to many, including his kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Dougherty – who has shaved her head alongside him for the past three years. Gavin has demonstrated initiative, leadership, and creativity through his involvement in St. Baldrick’s. Recently, he helped host a city-wide talent show and helped with a glow dance hosted by the West Branch Middle School Student Council to raise money for the organization and will soon be volunteering with DJ’s parents as they begin a food truck business (DJ’s Snack Shack) to help benefit pediatric cancer through donations to St. Baldrick’s.

“Unfortunately, his friend DJ passed away a little over a year ago,” says Krista. “Despite losing his classmate, Gavin has continued to fight for other children in our community. Gavin spends his time educating his team and those in the community about why St. Baldrick’s Foundation is so important. Less than 4% of the total money raised in our nation for cancer research goes to pediatric cancer research and until last year, it had been nearly 20 years since a new innovative treatment for pediatric cancer had been discovered – meaning children were taking adult treatments. Even if children survive cancer, they are more likely than adults to have lasting effects from the treatments they were forced to take to survive. He knows that education is key to helping others understand why supporting St. Baldrick’s is so important.”

Inspired Youth recognizes the extraordinary contributions of young individuals, who volunteer their time and skills to better their community in the areas of health, education and financial stability, and inspire others to join in the efforts, creating the “multiplier effect.” Award recipients demonstrate initiative, leadership and creativity in their service to others, serve as a role model for others in their community and inspire others to join them in their effort.