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South Salt Lake Journal

Local eighth graders honor ‘silent heroes' with essay contest sponsored by ChamberWest

Jul 02, 2019 04:40PM ● By Holly Vasic

Event sponsor GRIFOLS Biomat attended the breakfast on May 22. (Courtesy of Connie Bailey)

By Holly Vasic | [email protected]

On May 22, ChamberWest Women in Business hosted their eighth annual A Champion to Me Silent Hero breakfast at the Granite Education Center to celebrate silent heroes nominated by the eighth-grade students of Kearns, West Lake STEM, Bennion, and Valley junior highs who participated in an essay contest.

ChamberWest represents the business communities of West Valley City, the City of Taylorsville, West Jordan City, and Kearns Metro Township. Their website states, “We serve as a Catalyst for business growth, a Convener of leaders and influencers, and a Champion for a stronger community.” ChamberWest has a Women in Business program that puts on bimonthly luncheons throughout the year, including the annual silent hero breakfast. 

The Women in Business Committee consists of different women from the community who put on events to connect and inspire. One of the committee members, Kim Gilbert, explained the breakfast is part of their community outreach, a way to honor silent heroes, and is also a part of the participating junior high schools’ eighth-grade English curriculum. 

Each school is allowed two students to attend the event, Gilbert said. The Women in Business Committee does not judge or decide which two essays will be a part of the breakfast but leave that up to the schools themselves. “Kudos to the teachers ’cause they’re the ones that make the whole thing work,” Gilbert said. 

If a student’s essay is chosen, they are picked up in a limo, thanks to Dignity Memorial, a funeral provider located in West Valley, from their school and brought to the breakfast. The students enjoy the experience of the limo ride from school to the event and back again. “That’s the coolest thing ever for them,” Gilbert said. Another sponsor of the breakfast, GRIFOLS Biomat, a plasma center in Taylorsville, rewarded all eight students with Beats headphones this year and the students were also entered into a drawing for an iPad, Gilbert said. 

Not only do the students attend the breakfast but teachers, local community leaders, parents and family members, and the silent hero themselves are invited as well. The chosen students get to read their essay during the breakfast, Gilbert said. Some stories are lighthearted, while other are heart wrenching, like the one about a girl whose mom was a drug addict but is now in recovery and thus was her hero. 

The first year they made a big mistake, Gilbert said. “There was no Kleenexes on the table, that is now our centerpieces.” 

Silent heroes come from all walks of life and all ages. “They go anywhere from grandparents to uncles, there was a church leader that was honored this year and a student,” Gilbert said. “Of course we have had parents and siblings.” 

The benefits of the breakfast extends beyond the honoring of a silent hero. Gilbert recalled one student who read his essay at the first silent heroes breakfast. “Three years later, his junior year, he came back to the breakfast and talked about how much it meant to him to come to that breakfast and speak.” Gilbert said his confidence grew from the experience and this year, now a college student, “that same young man, was hired by one of our board’s CEOs to work at his company.” She called it, “a full circle type thing.” 

Gilbert hopes the program will continue to expand, eventually being a part of every junior high in the Granite District. 

“We do have another school that’s interested next year,” Gilbert said. She would also like to see more involvement from local leaders. The more schools and people on board, “the bigger and better it is,” said Gilbert.