School: Prospect Park School, where she is an eighth grader.
Achievement: Roeder, 13, has raised more than $20,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. She started fund-raising in 2003, the same year her sister Jessica, who would now be 25, died of the disease.
In April, Roeder, an honor-roll student, received a bronze Distinguished Finalist medallion as part of the 2007 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program, which recognized her as one of the outstanding youth volunteers in Pennsylvania. Roeder also has qualified for the President's Volunteer Service Award.
Question: Why did you feel it was important to raise money for cystic fibrosis?
Answer: I've had a lot of experience with the disease. And my sister actually died from cystic fibrosis, so I don't want other families to have to go through what my family went through. So helping raise money to find a cure could help other families, even though it's too late for my family.
Q: What activities would you do to fund-raise?
A: I do bake sales. I sell taffies and Beanie Babies outside of Acme and other places. I contact corporations or companies, trying to get big-business donations. And I just send letters around my neighborhood. Just any way to get other people involved. I do assemblies here. I speak to classrooms. I do a lot to get the school involved.
Q: When you do presentations to the classrooms, do you get nervous about public speaking?
A: At first, I was nervous. That was probably last year, because I started bringing the school into it last year. But this year, all the little kids already know me from doing it last year. And they all know about it. So that makes it fun.
Q: When you speak to classrooms or other groups, what do you try to tell them?
A: Last year, I read them a book about a mother with cystic fibrosis. And this year, instead of reading the book, I actually lead a classroom discussion of the different adaptations students with CF have to have at school. So that way, they can relate and compare their lives to the lives of children with cystic fibrosis.
Q: How do you think the skills you've used to fund-raise help you in other areas?
A: I get a lot of public-speaking skills and social skills. And I'm not afraid to talk to people anymore.
Q: How did you react when you found out you were a finalist in the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program?
A: I was really excited. And shocked, because I didn't expect to get a response. There's a lot of other people out there doing stuff.
Q: What have you enjoyed about the volunteer work?
A: You get to meet a lot of new people. Last year, the foundation that I do a lot of the fund-raising for got a new person, the new director of the foundation for the region. And she actually called my house and wanted me to come out and speak at one of their meetings.
She was talking to me because I had raised so much money in previous years, and then finally I said, 'Do you want to talk to my mom?'
And she was like, you know, "Why do I want to talk to your mom?" I was just like, "I'm only 12." And this shocked the lady. Because of what I had done. I think that was one of the most rewarding things, just other people being like aware of it.
Q: What else are you interested in?
A: I do a lot of after-school activities. I'm student council president. So that's more volunteer work. Basically, I don't play any sports. I hang out with people, and we play sports, like kickball in the streets. Just clubs and stuff I get involved with at school, like chorus, stock-market club.
Q: What would you like to do when you're older?
A: When I'm older, I was thinking somewhere either in politics, criminal law, something like that. Like a lawyer, forensic scientist.
What a teacher says: "To be honest with you, she goes about [fund-raising] very quietly," said Dan McGrath, a seventh- and eighth-grade social studies teacher and co-adviser for student council. "You know, she doesn't crave the attention of it. She's not going to tell you how much she's doing. You're never going to hear her complain about it.
"For an eighth grader, her schedule's full. It definitely doesn't affect her in a negative way," McGrath said of the volunteer work. "I think it made her more social, because she's dealing with a lot of adults through different fund-raisers. You know, I kind of see the change in the classroom. She's become a little bit more outgoing - never that she was actually quiet or shy, but you can see she's a little bit more confident and outgoing."
- Ed Mahon