Three South Florida youth honored by WWE for being a STAR

 

jvarsallone@miamiherald.com

In an effort to recognize deserving South Florida youth who promote the values of the Be a STAR anti-bullying program, World Wrestling Entertainment in conjunction with the Miami Herald honored three youth before a WWE show at the BB&T Center in Sunrise.

Logan Alvarez of Homestead, Eli Bloom of Kendall and Tristan Castillo of South Miami exemplified the Be a STAR (Show Tolerance And Respect) mantra.

Be a STAR was founded by The Creative Coalition and WWE in April 2011. The mission is to ensure a positive and equitable social environment for everyone regardless of age, race, religion or sexual orientation through grassroots efforts beginning with education and awareness.

Be a STAR promotes positive methods of social interaction and encourages people to treat others as equals and with respect because everyone is a star in their own right.

WWE superstars and divas often make school visits throughout the country (and even internationally) throughout the year, discussing how they dealt with bullying and stereotypes growing up and even into adulthood. They encourage students to Be a STAR -- including be positive, ignore cyber-bullying, help others and tell someone (an adult and a friend) if bullying occurs.

Coaches, family members, friends and teacher nominated South Florida youth, describing how that youth has been a STAR at home and/or school, in the neighborhood or within a activity, club or sports environment.

Alvarez, Bloom and Castillo were invited as Be a STAR finalists to the WWE show at the BB&T Center on Friday, June 7 in Sunrise. Each finalist received two tickets to the show and a WWE prize pack, courtesy of WWE.

Each also received a club parking pass, courtesy of the BB&T Center, home to the Florida Panthers hockey team. Formerly the Bank Atlantic Center, the award-winning arena has housed many WWE shows.

Bloom was drawn as the grand prize winner and participated in a pre-show, meet-n-greet at the BB&T Center. A well-mannered youth, Bloom received autographs and posed for photos with WWE superstar The Miz, who is a strong advocate of Be a STAR and one of its key speakers.

“[WWE] asked us who would like to be involved, and I was the first to raise my hand,” The Miz said. “When you look at WWE and our audience, it’s kids and young adults. I think [bullying] is a big problem in the world. So we’re making a difference.”

The Miz continued: “When I was a kid growing up in Parma, Ohio, I remember getting picked on all the time, being told I wasn’t good enough. I wish I had a WWE superstar or anyone that would have told me to be more vocal about what’s going on. Tell somebody. Tell a parent. Tell an adult. Tell one of your friends. Maybe that will stop the bully.

“Having someone actually motivate people by saying, ‘It’s not cool to pick on someone. Get the person away from the bully, and tell the bully to stop’ is very important. Let’s face it. This is a big problem going on right now in the world.”

These days physical bullying is just one type of bullying.

“Kids, adults, bullying never stops, especially with Cyber-bullying nowadays,” The Miz said. “Twitter, Facebook, texting, there’s bullying non-stop. You look at Twitter and how negative people are on it. I get Tweets that are very negative. I get Facebook messages. You see stuff on YouTube.

“I’m trying to bring a positive message to all those kids -- where instead of writing negative stuff on Twitter -- why not just be more positive with your life, and it will make more people feel better about themselves.

“We also tell kids ways to prevent Cyber-bullying is to ignore it, get rid of it, tell an adult, tell a teacher, tell a friend, talk about it, because the problem is with bullying so many people don’t talk about it. They’re too shy or too scared. If people are more vocal about it, it will prevent it from happening.”

Nominations for the honorees

Logan Alvarez, 11, of Homestead

5th grader at Gateway Environmental K-8

Parents: Eduardo Alvarez and Jodi English

From Jodi English: “My son’s name is Logan Alvarez. He is an incredible 11-year-old, who had to overcome many obstacles in his life from being assaulted at school when he was in kindergarten to growing up with a medically disabled father. He has overcome adversity at such a young age and continues to strive. He is in all gifted classes. He is the captain of the school safety patrol (protecting others from bullies). He is in earth buddies, and last year he was inducted into the National Elementary School Honor Society.

“”I am a teacher of students with Intellectual Disabilities and for the last three years Logan has chosen to attend the Special Olympics State Games with my students, instead of having birthday parties. Every night that WWE is on television, we watch it as a family. If my husband is not up to watching, we record and watch it together another day.

“Please consider him for the opportunity. It would mean the world to him, and he really does deserve it.”

Eli Bloom, 9, of Kendall

3rd grader at Devonaire K-8 Center

Parents: Greg and Laura Bloom

From Laura Bloom: “I am writing to nominate my son, Eli, for being a STAR. He is 9-years-old and in the third grade. Not only does my son exemplify being a leader, but he also sets a wonderful example treating others fairly and kindly.

“Each day he is responsible for taking care of his 6-year-old sister. He picks her up from her class, waits for the bus and makes sure they get on the bus safely. School personnel and parents have approached me during the school year to comment on how kind and responsible he is with his sister.

“In his after school program, he has become friends with several boys who are each of different cultural and racial backgrounds. On one occasion, there was an incident of racial name calling, and my son made sure to let me know about it and how upset it made him. He then joined together with the boys to let the name callers know that it wasn’t OK to be a bully. At that moment, I was exceptionally proud.

“Lastly, my son has a unique perspective on those with special needs. He always seems to understand their differences and makes sure that he doesn’t make them feel left out. I am beyond proud of my son. He is definitely a STAR in my eyes. He loves WWE and would be delighted to win tickets to see a show and be recognized as a STAR.”

Tristan Castillo, 5, of South Miami

Mom/Step Dad/Dad: Shari Sanchez/Norman Novoa/Alonso Castillo

From Shari Sanchez: “I am nominating my compassionate son, Tristan Castillo, age 5, for the STAR program. Tristan is a kind-hearted boy and not to mention a WWE fanatic. Currently he owns more than 38 wrestlers and will sing you every song they come out to by memory.

“He attends a Christian daycare where he brings his old toys and clothes to help the children in need on a weekly basis. I am 7-months pregnant, and he assists me in taking out the trash, making his bed and sweeping the floor on a daily basis.

“He just took his Pre-k exit exam and scored highest in his class. I believe he has demonstrated a lot of qualities to become a STAR member at such a young age and has so much room to grow. I am very proud of him and believe I owe it to him to do something like this for him.”

•  YouTube videos of the WWE South Florida Be a STAR honorees and more:

The Miz Congratulates Honoree Eli Bloom:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BlSNSw6CEFQ

Honoree Eli Bloom Meets WWE superstar The Miz:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1EJ-1RWbt8

Honoree Eli Bloom:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBhEarjQSuI

Honoree Logan Alvarez:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzmjVPBXvP4

Honoree Logan Alvarez and family:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tV4yjYkzHDM

Honorees Eli Bloom and Logan Alvarez: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujqRm8UnnCw

Honoree Tristan Castillo singing one of his favorite WWE superstar theme songs:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M31Du8t67Ko

WWE superstars and divas and celebrities discuss, encourage Be a STAR (Part 1):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyV3mpTawUQ

BB&T Center Senior Vice President & General Manager Brett Stefansson (Part 1):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baxL6xMsfZ8

WWE superstars and divas and celebrities discuss, encourage Be a STAR (Part 2):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGBhFqa2wV4&NR=1&feature=fvwp

BB&T Center Senior Vice President & General Manager Brett Stefansson (Part 2):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHOXXOPlVbQ

WWE’s The Miz and Lilian Garcia at John F. Kennedy Middle School in North Miami for Be a STAR rally during WrestleMania Week Miami in March 2012:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcJP0gX76rY

• For students who are being bullied or who would like to start their own Be a STAR chapter, WWE provides these resources:

https://community.wwe.com/diversity/take-action/students

For teachers who would like to take action against bullying, WWE offers a downloadable teachers guide here:

https://community.wwe.com/diversity/take-action/teachers

Visit https://community.wwe.com/diversity.

• Facebook Be a STAR

https://www.facebook.com/beaSTARAlliance

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