Marine Corps Base Quantico -- Throughout the year, military families make many sacrifices, from moving to not seeing loved ones during deployments. The Military Child of the Year® Award, in conjunction with the Month of the Military Child, honors children like Christian Fagala who make exceptional contributions to their community and society in the midst of their family’s sacrifices.
Christian, who is the 9-year-old son of Diana Fagala and Marine Capt. Justin Fagala (stationed at Quantico) was the Marine Corps recipient of the award during the 2016 Military Child of the Year® Award ceremony April 14, at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Arlington.
“I am receiving an award for being the Military Child of the Year® for the Marine Corps for all the things I have done [like] helping the homeless and cancer walks to donate for research,” said Christian.
Christian faced many challenges at a young age, the biggest one was being diagnosed with cancer at the age of two. This also affected other aspects of his life such as learning because of the effects of chemotherapy.
These challenges did not deter Christian, as he faced them head on and made it his mission to make a difference for those who are dealing with similar struggles.
Some of Fagala’s accomplishments include speaking on behalf of childhood cancer programs and raising more than $20,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and CureSearch through walks and other charity events.
“When I was four I saw a sign on the wall that said ‘Cancer Walks’ and I wanted to go and I’ve been doing it ever since,” said Christian. “That’s how I got my personality for helping people.”
In addition to contributions to cancer, Christian has dedicated more than 100 hours to homeless outreach.
For these and other selfless acts, Christian joined five other children to represent the U.S. military services to be the recipients of the Military Child of the Year® Award from Operation Homefront.
“I feel honored and excited because there are many other children who have done great and I was chosen out of 500 others,” said Christian.
Operation Homefront was established in 2002 to aid military families in any way they can so they have a strong and stable lifestyle. The Military Child of the Year® Award is one of the many ways that Operation Homefront helps and honors military families.
“I grew up in a military family and I know what they do to help their loved ones serve,” said John I. Pray, Jr., the CEO of Operation Homefront. “My family did a marvelous job of helping me serve this great nation. Our families serve alongside us wherever we go and we make sure there is an organization that focuses on them.”
The recipients of the award had the opportunity to tour places such as the National Museum of American History before attending the award ceremony. Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., the 19th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a nd other senior military representatives also attended the ceremony to present and congratulate the children.
“They don’t help families get through the sacrifices or deal with the challenges of military lifestyles, they help families thrive in that environment,” said Dunford. “When we see this evening’s award recipients we won’t see people who have survived the military lifestyle, we’ll see people who have challenges in their own lives that actually go far beyond the challenges they are confronted with in a military lifestyle and we’re going to see young people that have thrived. You can’t put a price tag on what that means to us.”
Christian is setting his sights on raising $30,000 for cancer research and aspires to follow in his father’s footsteps by becoming a Marine in the future to give back to the community that helped him in his time of need.
“When you start thinking about Christian, he is a perfect representative,” said Pray. “Marines are expeditionary and he has that expeditionary spirit, and he is a true Marine at heart. His parents have a marvelous impact on him and have guided his life so he reflects all those values that we hold dear in this nation.”