Carter Williams has been a fighter ever since she was born. At birth, Carter was diagnosed with a heart defect and had to have open heart surgery at Valley Children’s Hospital, but her condition hasn’t stopped her from pursuing her dreams.
Now, at 12, Carter continues to push herself and expand her boundaries, all while maintaining a 4.0 grade-point average.
“With her condition, some of the sports were too hard for her, but she still wanted to be a part of it,” said her mother, Stacey Williams. “She’s soft-spoken but doesn’t let anything stop her.”
Carter plays tennis and is a cheerleader, but she also manages both the girls and boys basketball and volleyball teams at Fort Washington Elementary in Fresno.
More than just an athlete, Carter also is an accomplished harpist. At 3, Carter fell in love with the harp when her family took a trip to San Francisco and she saw a woman playing in a lobby. Even though she was too young to start lessons then, Carter remembered that day, and at 7, finally began taking lessons and has been playing ever since.
In December, she performed a solo concert at St. Mary’s College, where she raised $4,000 to provide new violins for students at a neighboring Bay Area school.
Her teacher, Karen Gonzales, said that Carter always wants to know how she can do better and is an amazing student.
“She is often concerned about the needs of other students and shows great empathy for a student her age,” Gonzales said. “Carter always wants to do the right thing.”
For Carter, doing the right thing means remembering those who have helped her. She was the first Kids Day ambassador for Valley Children’s Hospital, where she continues to volunteer.
Even though she is soft-spoken, her mother said, she still acts in plays at her school and was elected to her student council.
“One day last week she told me, ‘Mom, I think the more things I’m involved with the better, because I just need to be busy. … It keeps me focused’ .”
School: Fort Washington Elementary, Clovis Unified
Parents: Kevin and Stacey Williams
Achievements: 4.0 GPA, 2015 Destination Imagination Regional 1st Place team participant, Fresno Youth Orchestra Member and was the first Kids Day ambassador for Valley Children’s Hospital.
Garrett Fox, 11, Clovis
School: Century Elementary School (Clovis Unified)
Parents: Randy and Leanne Fox
Achievements: Described as always one to volunteer with a smile by his principal, Gary Comstock, Garrett is an all-around achiever and an accomplished musician. Evidence of his hard work includes a 4.0 grade-point average for the last three years at Century, where he earned the Principal’s Medallion; his participation in basketball, baseball, football, soccer and swim, where he qualified for the Junior Olympics; and his service on the student council as Century’s current student body president. Garrett was one of the first students to qualify for the Honors Orchestra on three separate instruments, Comstock said, including piano, violin and saxophone. In the future, Comstock said, Garrett hopes to be a professional football player, baseball player, or a standup comedian.
Katelyn Elizabeth Baker, 12, Fresno
School: Herndon Barstow Elementary School (Central Unified)
Parents: Paul and Ryann Shoaf and Kelly Baker
Achievements: Described as incredibly socially conscious by her teacher, Julie Porter, Katelyn doesn’t understand how truly gifted she is, Porter said. Out of all of her activities, “she doesn’t see it as a competition; she does so because it’s innate in her,” Porter said. Katelyn is a talented singer, competing up and down California and volunteering to sing at events supporting Down syndrome, autism and heart disease. She also has competed in the science fair, history day and on the robotics team and is an accomplished track and cross country runner, Porter said, all while maintaining a 4.0 grade-point average. “She is really able to do anything that she puts her mind to,” Porter said, including volunteering at Valley Children’s Hospital and the Poverello House.
Camden Riley Kirk, 11, Clovis
School: Dry Creek Elementary School (Clovis Unified)
Parents: Layne and Ken Kirk
Achievements: Camden is truly a one-of-a-kind student according to his teacher, Christy Lilles. “He comes across quiet and reserved, but once you pique his interest, he glows with excitement,” Lilles said. Evidence of that intense interest are his 4.0 grade-point average throughout all of elementary school, his membership in the Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Chess Club, where he taught his teacher how to play and also won a tournament qualifying him as a nationally rated player. Camden is also an athlete and musician, playing piano, soccer, track, cross country, baseball and basketball. An avid reader, writer and mathematician, Camden is a member of the First Lego League robotics team. In his spare time, he enjoys reading large books and teaching himself computer programming languages.
Megan Ginise: 559-441-6614
- Age: 12
- School: Fort Washington Elementary, Clovis Unified
- Home: Fresno
- Parents: Kevin and Stacey Williams