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Laura Hare, a seventh-grade pupil at St. Amelia School in the Town of Tonawanda, said sports have taught her important life lessons, such as "Hard work pays off" and "Never give up."

That's why the 12-year-old plays soccer, volleyball and basketball.

She wrote about the benefits of being an athlete and how it can make people better citizens in an essay that was submitted to the 2001 Winter Achievers Essay Contest in December.

The contest, sponsored by the New York Lottery and Goodwill Games, received thousands of entries.

Laura was recently announced as one of 10 winners in the state and the only one in the region. She and the other winners will be recognized Feb. 23 during the opening ceremonies of the Empire State Winter Games in Lake Placid.

Laura received a laptop computer and printer, a commemorative sweat suit, a plaque and a medal for her winning essay. St. Amelia School will receive a computer package from the New York Lottery as a Winter Achiever School.

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