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St. Henry senior awarded 2012 Jefferson Award, known as Nobel Prize for service

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CINCINNATI - What started as a childhood love for cheetahs, developed into a passion to help improve the lives of women and children in a tiny village in Kenya, near Nairobi. In what some call 'the slums of Africa' there's a little village in Kenya called Bisel. That is where Michael Best and his classmates at St. Henry are bringing its people hope.

With the help of the Ed Colina Foundation a school in Bisel has been transformed.

Best started by building and equipping one classroom.

"St. Henry High School had an out-of-uniform day and we collected money, raised enough money to build another classroom," said Best.

And then he did it again, with the help of his peers.

"This past year we did the same thing, we raised enough money for desk and teacher fees," said Best.

What sets Best apart is he's getting his entire community involved by sharing his stories.  And as you can imagine, it has been an eye-opening experience.

"While we were there we went to village and we saw the people there, a bunch of kids playing soccer with just garbage tied up. I remember the first time it really made me a lot more thankful for what I have," said Best.

For his efforts he is being honored with one of our nation's highest service honors, the 2012 Jefferson Service Award.

Children Inc. sponsors the award paying for his trip to the ceremony in Washington D.C.

"One of the things one of our judges felt from the nomination process was that he (Best) invited other classmates and got the school involved," said Mary Connolly, Director of Service Learning at Children Inc.

The Jefferson Award is built on the simple idea that one person can make a difference.

At the age of 17 Michael joins the ranks of Peyton Manning, Barbara Bush, and John Glenn, all Jefferson Award winners.

Michael and his parents are heading to D.C. this weekend for the ceremony.

Link to Ed Colina Foundation

Link to Children Inc

Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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