Kyle Hoeye, a Tucson teen whose father served in the war in Iraq, was just trying to help when he spread his video-making knowledge to other military kids.
But the 17-year-old, who started in the UACE 4-H Speak Out Military Kids program four years ago, got an unexpected pat on the back for his work. In a Washington, D.C. ceremony featuring First Lady Michelle Obama, Kyle was named the 2010 Operation Homefront Military Child of the Year for the Army.
More than 1,400 Army kids worldwide were nominated for the award, which comes with a $5,000 gift and a new computer.
The high school junior got involved in Speak Out Military Kids when he was 12. After making videos to send to his father, he started teaching other kids how to make videos for their parents at war. "Kyle took what he did with his own family, and found a way to take that to other kids," said Teresa Noon, the Operation Military Kids program coordinator for UACE.
Now he also helps kids before their parents deploy and after they return – both of which can be as stressful as the time parents are away. He reminds kids that their parents don't want to leave; they have to.
It isn't about recognition for Kyle, a normal kid who likes to play baseball and volunteer with UACE 4-H and his school's Key Club. If you ask him why he likes teaching video skills, the answer is simple. "They're always so excited about it. The kids, everyone involved in it – even the parents," he said.