SPRING LAKE, Mich. -- There's "paying it forward", and there's REALLY "paying it forward."
A 7th grader from Spring Lake, Michigan has managed to REALLY pay it forward, and she recently received some state and national recognition for her prolific fundraising abilities.
Aubrey Cohoon will be starting junior high soon. If there was a national hall of fame for fundraising and volunteerism, she;d likely be entering that at the same time.
Cohoon is among two students from Michigan who recently entered and won the Prudential Spirit of Community Award, which is given annually to select middle level and high school level students for outstanding service to others at the local, state and national levels.
Cohoon, along with Dale Apley, 16, from Skyline High School, were the only two individuals in Michigan given the honor.
"I got interested in giving back to others after I received a bunch of gifts for my 7th birthday," said Cohoon. "Every birthday since, I just asked for donations as gifts, instead of getting presents I really didn't need."
Over the course of the past two years, Cohoon has raised more than $40,000 for Make-A-Wish Michigan.
She and her family were invited to Washington D.C. in May to accept the award.
The money Aubrey has generated has allowed three terminally ill children, along with their families, to enjoy "wishes" from Make-A-Wish.
"I volunteered and raised money year-around," said Cohoon. "I raised money by forming a team for the annual "Walk for Wishes", I ran in a 5K, bussed tables at local restaurants in exchange for donations to Make-A-Wish, sold bracelets at a car show and at a neighborhood stand and recruited local businesses to help.
"I never expected it to become a super big deal, but it just exploded."
If one award wasn't enough, Aubrey was recognized for her volunteerism by Michigan's Governor Snyder as well.
On August 30, she received the "Governor's Service Award" for her amazing level of volunteerism and fundraising, which have now become a way of life for the Cohoon family.
"I have a walk coming up on October 1st in Grand Rapids," said Cohoon. "I'm currently working on getting donations for that, and my goal for that one event along is $20,000."
Not too bad for a 12 year old.
If you know of other youngsters who exemplify extreme ability in volunteerism and fundraising, online applications are available right now for the 2017 Prudential Spirit of Community Award."
Online applications will be accepted through November 8, 2016.
You can also call 1-877-525-8491 to apply.
(© 2016 WZZM)