Smithtown High School East freshman Matthew Redlein has won a local award for his volunteer efforts and philanthropic activities.
Redlein, 14, of St. James, will receive the Leaders of Tomorrow Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Long Island Chapter. The association’s president, Catherine Muscente, said: “Every year, an independent committee reviews nominations and makes decisions on awardees. This year the committee decided to award two Leaders of Tomorrow awards as both young men were equally impressive and deserving.”
Redlein will be recognized at the association’s Philanthropy Day 2017 Awards Luncheon in November.
“It’s a really big honor. It’s amazing,” Redlein said.
His efforts include fundraising for America’s VetDogs, a Smithtown-based nonprofit that helps veterans, active-duty service members and first responders who have disabilities by pairing them with service dogs.
Redlein has raised nearly $44,000 of his $50,000 goal, which he said would fund the training of eight dogs. Fundraisers included selling bracelets and lollipops at school and collecting donations through the VetDogs website.
He said the cause hits home with him because he has been partially blind since birth — the result of a hereditary condition that also affects his older brother, Brandon, who is completely blind.
“Everyone has their own form of a struggle and any way you can make that better, you want to help,” Redlein said.
He plays saxophone in the school band and is a member of DECA Club. He also was named a Hometown Hero by the New York Islanders in March 2016.