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Class act / An outstanding young Western New Yorker

Katie Riznyk knows serving others isn't always easy.

Katie, 16, is an upcoming senior at Orchard Park High School and spent two weeks this month working at Eden Wood Center, a camp near Minneapolis for students with disabilities.

She said she enjoyed her time working with about 60 campers, ages 6 to 21, but she acknowledged how difficult the job was.

"It was just very stressful," she said. "[I] definitely give a lot of credit to the people that can do it all summer."

Katie served as a Landmark Volunteer, one of 10 teens sent to the camp to do manual labor and help campers with things such as cutting up food at meals and conquering the high ropes course.

She spent two weeks last summer working as a Landmark Volunteer with inner-city children in Hartford, Conn., but chose to spend her time this summer with students with disabilities.

"When I worked with campers last summer, they understood you and were able to respond," she said. "Some of the campers I worked with [this summer] were nonverbal . . . You had to learn patience."

Katie, who hopes to pursue a career in broadcast journalism, a passion she developed working as a music reporter for Orchard Park High's QTV television program, said she doesn't plan to apply to work with students with disabilities next summer. But, "I would definitely do it again if it were placed in front of me," she said.

What was the most rewarding part of her two weeks?

"At the end of the week, having the campers hug you and say that they love you," she said.

Know a young outstanding Western New Yorker? Tell us about your nomination, including date of birth and address, for possible publication in Class act. Sorry, photos cannot be returned. E-mail, or write to: Louise Continelli, The Buffalo News, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, NY 14240.1

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