JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Two students are showing the world what it means to be Mississippi Strong.
They have been selected Top Youth Volunteers and will receive the national honor during the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards in Washington, D.C.
One of them is Jackson Prep Senior, Joseph Voynik. He has raised more than $600,000 to build accessible baseball fields in Mississippi.
17-year-old Joseph Voynick has worked for over four years to make sure baseball fields are accessible for all children, including those with disabilities.
Voynik said, "I think it's just because I was kind of the one to notice it. And I think it's because of the background I grew up with. My mom is in a wheelchair and I can see the opportunities are not always there for her like they are for us."
He got started when he was just 12-years-old after watching a baseball game that featured a segment on the Miracle League. With his parents help, he organized the Miracle League of Central Mississippi.
“It needs to be a flat surface. I mean that’s easy to roll on like rubberized cement. It’s really easy to drain, and I think another thing that people often overlook is shading structures. Because some of these kids they don’t, their bodies can’t regulate temperature and that’s a big thing that they need", Joseph said.
Watching kids being able to enjoy his favorite sport became his mission.
Voynik said, "it's beautiful you know. Cause I know they don't have a lot of opportunities and to see them actually enjoy it and knowing that I did that and that I gave them that opportunity, it’s something you can't really describe."
Joseph and his classmates at Jackson Prep have volunteered around the world. He helped plan and oversee the construction of this Miracle Field that opened last year in Ridgeland.
Voynik said, "until there's not really like a need for it anymore until every kid has an opportunity then you know we'll stop, but until then we'll keep on building them. And I know this is the only one we have in the metro area and I know people are interested in building more."
More than 29,000 young people around the nation participated in this year’s volunteer program.
The other student from Mississippi, 13-year-old Keegan Figueroa of Mooreville, collected almost 30,000 pounds of basic necessities. They were delivered to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.
Joseph and Keegan will receive the Top Youth Volunteer Awards in May.