(EASTERN HEIGHTS) - Having a day designated in your honor by the Bloomfield Town Council before an assembly of your classmates at Eastern Greene Elementary School might be bit overwhelming to a lot of 10-year old youngsters.
Nick Schneide, of the Greene County Daily World reports, B.J. Yoho is unlike many of his peers.
B.J. is a happy kid, a motivated boy with an infectious ear-to-ear smile who possesses a helping heart destined and determined to bring joy to the lives of other youngsters in hospitals, in his school and in his community.
Born with spina bifida, B.J. has faced many medical challenges and 16 surgeries since birth -- including amputation of his right leg.
A 17th surgery is slated for November to repair the outside of his ear.
"I cannot hear out of this ear at all," he said.
The Solsberry boy was officially recognized Wednesday by Riley Children's Foundation as the 2012 Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Champion for Indiana in an afternoon program.
Wednesday was his special day - designated by official proclamation as "B.J. Yoho Day" - a celebration that will renewed every year.
The youngster's smile was beaming as he conducted television and newspaper interviews.
The fourth grader is thrilled about all the attention he received and looking forward to a pair of upcoming trips as his first official duties.
In September, B.J. will visit Washington, D.C. (Sept. 16-18), and then Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. (Sept. 19-22) to inspire others to support children's hospitals.
"I get to eat dinner in the White House. I'll meet the President," he proudly declared.
The Champions program, sponsored by Delta, Ace Hardware, and Chico's, brings 50 children together from across the country who all have tackled severe medical challenges. B.J. will help represent the 17 million children that are treated at 170 Children's Miracle Network Hospitals each year. Through the Champions program, he will continue supporting fundraising campaigns for Riley Hospital.
B.J. knows the halls of Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health very well.
Dubbed "B.J. Claus" by his friends and family, BJ has made a difference at the hospital doling out toys at Christmas.
For the last three years B.J. has united teachers, businesses and church groups around Bloomfield, Ind., in a toy drive.
In 2011, he set a new record by collecting 640 toys from his school and at Bloomfield State Bank's Eastern Heights Branch.
"It (the toy drive) makes me feel very happy and special that I'm able to help cheer up another child," he said. "I know what it is like and what they are going through when they are faced with sickness. Riley Children's Hospital has been my second home...all of the doctors and nurses have been so nice to me. They have helped me not feel scared when I'm at my appointments. They have helped give me hope. I am so glad that I can help try to give back to them by doing my toy drive."
He continued, "I hope by sharing my story of having spina bifida will help show others that they can still do great things."
B.J. has already begun collecting for this year's Christmas drive with a goal of 1,000 toys.
"Despite his challenges, BJ never loses his permanent smile and desire to serve others," said Blaine Yoho, B.J.'s mother.
She said the special day honoring her son seems like a dream.
"I can't believe this is happening. It is just so overwhelming. I couldn't be any prouder of him. There is no words to describe it," Blaine Yoho said. "He's always happy. I've never seen him not smiling. He's had some major operations in the last 10 years, but always at the end of the day, he's always got a smile on his face. I think that is what keeps him going. He's definitely an inspiration to everybody. He basically one of a kind."
Eastern School Superintendent Ty Mungle also called B.J. an inspiration.
"When you get to know B.J. and just the energy and how his positive outlook on life and all of the things it has to offer. I think he is one whose glass is always half full. I think every day at school it's hard to find him when he doesn't have a smile on his face," Mungle said. "I think what he has started with the toy drive, it's just a way that he continues to give and give to others."
Mungle also announced he's invited Lakeview Elementary School in the Monroe County school system to participate in the toy drive -- increasing the goal to 2,000 toys
Doug Frye, a member of the Bloomfield Town Council read the B.J. Yoho Day proclamation and presented the youngster with $1,000 in donations collected from Bloomfield area merchants and individuals that will go toward the upcoming toy drive.
Robin Borroughs, representing the Kids Sharing and Caring program at Riley Hospital, presented B.J. with a digital camera - donated by the 2009 Children's Network Champion A.J. Stinger. She also presented the school with a large banner that will be displayed throughout the year at the school calling attention to B.J.'s important role as hospital network champion.
Sharon Abts, principal at Eastern Greene Elementary School, announced at Wednesday's assembly that the school will conduct a Kids Caring & Sharing fundraising campaign in B.J.'s honor next Friday (Aug. 31) hoping to raise $500.
Kids Caring & Sharing is the philanthropic initiative embraced by the Indiana Association of School Principals in support of Riley Hospital.
This summer has been a busy one for Blaine and BJ. They accepted an invitation to serve as co-county leaders for Riley Children's Foundation, the fundraising organization supporting Riley Hospital that nominated B.J. for the ambassador role.
B.J. also appeared on the back of a Cheerios box promoting John Andretti's 16th annual Kroger Race for Riley fundraiser.
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