“Thousand Points of Light” Local honoree reflects on death of President George H.W. Bush


CLEVELAND - President George H.W. Bush once said, "from now on in America, any definition of a successful life must include serving others."

It's that essence of the good found in everyday Americans that led to a Parma girl receiving a presidential honor in 1992.

"It's a whirlwind, I can't even begin to explain what it was because I wish I remembered more; I wish I knew what it meant," said Fox 8 producer Kristen Wunderle Shorts.

Kristen was a Parma fifth grade student when she was honored as #749, of the president's "Thousand Points of Light." President George H.W. Bush created the award for people making a difference in order to highlight and encourage volunteers.

In a nomination letter typed by Kristen's aunt, she is described as a "remarkable" child. Who spent many weekends and days off from school caring for the elderly at her great-grandmothers' nursing home.

Her aunt wrote, "She knows all the patients by name. She helps the nurses pass out their lunch trays, wheels them to and from the cafeteria, draws them pictures for their rooms, reads to them and does whatever she can to soothe some of these forgotten souls."

Fox 8 followed her journey as a child, tagging along to Corinthian Nursing Home and was also there when she got to meet President in person. Wednesday she said when she first learned President Bush died she could not help but get emotional.

"I got tears in my eyes," said Wunderle Shorts. "Maybe it's foolish to somebody to think why are you crying over a president but he changed my life. I was 11 years old. I was given an honor far bigger than me, far bigger than I ever understood and I was given opportunities that most people will never have in their lifetime."

Wunderle Shorts says one message she hopes other children learn is to do good in the world even if no one is paying attention.

"You never know who is watching," Wunderle Shorts said. "You never know what a difference you can make."

According to the Points of Light website, to date more than 6,000 awards were given to people who "represent the heart and soul of our country, through them, the legacy of President Bush lives on."

More on the Points of Light here: