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Lydian Academy’s own Shay Patel has been named an honoree for the 2021 Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes. Each year, the Barron Prize celebrates 25 inspiring young leaders – fifteen top winners and ten honorees – who have made a significant positive impact on people, their communities, and the environment.

Shay founded Alley-Oop Kids to provide athletic equipment and positive sports experiences to underserved youth. In six years, his nonprofit has raised more than $50,000 and impacted over 20,000 kids globally. Alley-Oop Kids also provides free summer sports camps and gives foster kids the chance to attend professional sports games. Shay has built partnerships with the local school district, nonprofits, schools in India, and the NBA. He began his program as an 11-year-old, inspired after basketball practice at his local Boys & Girls Club, where he noticed players had little of the gear they needed. He resolved to help and raised $6,000 to purchase new shoes, uniforms, and balls for all 50 players. He has raised additional funds by organizing raffles, 3-point contests, and bake sales featuring his famous chocolate chip cookies. During the pandemic, Shay launched the Alley-Oop App to connect people with extra sports gear (and gently-used laptops for virtual schooling) with those who needed it. “I’ve learned that real growth happens outside of one’s comfort zone and usually after more ‘noes’ than ‘yeses,’ says Shay. “Though I’ve impacted lots of kids, I won’t be satisfied until all children have the opportunity to play sports and get an education.”

In recent years, Shay has been awarded the Harvard Book Prize and been a semi-finalist for Time’s Kid of the Year. Both adults to students alike are in awe of Shay’s collaborative nature and his deep desire to become a great global citizen. Everyone at Lydian Academy is extremely proud of him. 

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