The Burien City Council announced the recipient of its 2015 “Citizen of the Year” at Monday night’s meeting, and 13-year old Cassidy Huff was unanimously chosen by a 7-0 vote.
As many of our Readers may know, Cassidy is a special needs student at Sylvester Middle School, as well as a regular columnist for The B-Town Blog. She has undergone 34 surgeries, and on Feb. 20 was supposed to go in for her second to last one to straighten her spine. That surgery has been re-scheduled to Mar. 22.
The main criteria for the city’s annual award was to find “someone who has improved the quality of life in Burien,” as well as “someone who should be recognized for his/her contributions.”
Deputy Mayor Bob Edgar made the initial motion to nominate Cassidy, then Mayor Lucy Krakowiak, along with councilmembers Debi Wagner, Stephen Armstrong, Lauren Berkowitz and Austin Bell all voiced their unanimous support and praise of her as the winner.
Cassidy will be recognized on April 4 by the City of Burien.
Here’s what the city released:
As a 12 year-old, Cassidy Huff began tutoring special education students at Sylvester Middle School when she realized that many of the communications challenges faced by the students there could be overcome with technology like iPads and voice recognition apps. The School had no money for iPads, though. So Huff had an idea: why not raise the funds herself?
Huff had a lot on her plate at the time: she was still recovering from her 33rd spinal surgery. Born with a rare genetic condition called Conradi Hunermann, she is no stranger to surgeries. In fact, she would go on to write an in-depth column for the B-Town Blog, a publication for which she often writes, outlining what it’s like to be a young person and face surgeries so regularly. She is blind in her right eye, deaf in her left ear, and the right side of her body is about three and a half inches shorter than her left.
But Huff doesn’t appear to let these challenges slow her down, nor does she draw inward. Instead, she seeks ways to help others. By mid-January 2015, less than two months after she began to fundraise, Huff had raised enough money to purchase iPads, protective cases, and communication apps for the entire special education class at Sylvester – seven students in all.
The City Council voted unanimously at its March 7 meeting to name Huff as the 2016 Citizen of the Year. Huff will be honored with a reception at the start of the April 4 City Council meeting. The reception will also honor Advisory Board Members and other city volunteers. As Citizen of the Year, Huff will serve as the Grand Marshal of the Independence Day Parade.
The Citizen of the Year Award is given to a resident or residents who has demonstrated community service and contribution by dedicating their time and going “above and beyond” to make the Burien community a great place to work, play, and learn. They demonstrate strong character, leadership, commitment, and community service in a way that benefits others. Last year’s recipient was Eric Mathison.
Huff underwent her 34th surgery earlier this year.
As is tradition, Cassidy will also serve as Grand Marshal in the Independence Day Parade in Burien on July 4.
Here are some other photos of Cass, courtesy her Mom Shannon Reynolds:
Congratulations from all of us at The B-Town Blog to this wonderful citizen, who serves as an inspiration to us all!
Previous award winners include:
- Eric Mathison (2015)
- Maureen Hoffmann, Betty Olson Vacca and Neighbors of Seahurst Park (2014)
- Michael Noakes and Donna DiFiore (2013)
- John Feeney (2012)
- Maggie Larrick and Eric Dickman (2011)