OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- This week's Reaching 4 Excellence young achiever is the reigning "USA National Miss Kansas Junior Teen," but she's not just being featured for her title; she's being featured for her heart. Amelia Benjamin has a passion for putting smiles on Alzheimer's patients' faces.
The sounds of Amelia's voice and the notes she plays warm the spirits of many, such as Donna Bevan.
"I started singing just because I loved it. I had pneumonia a couple times and that weakened the vocal chords," Donna Bevan explained.
She is a resident at Bickford Assisted Living and Memory Care and has Alzheimer's, something that hits close to home for the Blue Valley North High School student.
"Three out of four of my great grandparents had some form of Alzheimer's and dementia," Amelia said.
Amelia's passion to help those suffering led her to create "Music Making Memories" where she travels to centers like, Bickford, to interact with residents.
"Older songs from the '40s, '50s, and '60s to help spark memories and brighten their day," she described.
Amelia's research led her to discover that music can help diminish anxiety in those suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's. 4:48:11 (:05) Amelia
"The part of the brain that holds music is the part of the brain that Alzheimer's attacks last," she explained.
"I really love watching them smile and light up and come alive because of music."
Recently, Amelia took part in the Alzheimer's Association's "Walk to End Alzheimer's." She raised nearly $1,500, earning her "grand champion" status for fundraising. She's taking part in Kansas City's walk on October 1. She heads to Florida in July to compete for the national title in her pageant system.