KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A metro teen is hoping to win a trip of a lifetime, but she needs votes to make it happen.
Semahj Ware is one of five finalists named in the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team SheBelieves Hero Contest.
The fourth annual contest is a nationwide search that looks to find young people who are leaders in their community and working to make a difference.
“I could not stop smiling. My cheeks were hurting and everything, but besides that, my family is really proud,” Ware said.
When Ware isn’t studying, she’s can often be found in the kitchen at Operation Breakthrough. The 14-year-old volunteers at the organization every day after school.
“It makes me happy to know that people are benefiting from my advice or succeeding from what they learn,” Ware said.
The ninth-grader’s love for cooking came from her mom, who was tragically killed two years ago in a car crash.
“It was a seizure, and since then it’s been very hard for us, especially for my younger sister,” she said.
Since then, Ware has helped her grandmother take care of her younger siblings, making sure the house is clean and there’s a hot meal – all while continuing to volunteer her time. She’s a nurturer like her mom.
“I know she would be really proud because she always tried to push me to do my best and make a change,” Ware said.
She’s always loved soccer, but never had the means or opportunity to play, besides the seldom pickup game in the neighborhood.
If Ware wins the 2020 SheBelieves Hero Contest, she’ll get a trip for two to New Jersey to watch the Women’s National Team take on Spain. She’ll also be invited to training, honored on-field during match day and receive U.S. Soccer gear, according to the contest rules.
“We’re going to go all out, it will be crazy if I win,” she said.
Elisabeth Schumacher is a development assistant at Operation Breakthrough and helped Ware submit her application for the contest.
Schumacher said Ware, who has never even been on an airplane, was the first person that came to her mind.
“We would love to see her win that and honestly, it’s just a weekend for her to be a kid again,” she said. “It would just be an amazing opportunity for her to meet her heroes.”
FOX4 reached out to another metro teen who made the top five, Lily Sowle of Parkville, on Tuesday and hope to profile her as well.
The winner of the contest will be announced on Monday, Feb. 24. You can cast your vote by clicking here.