Respect Challenge Winners

Special thanks to macys for making the RESPECT! Campaign possible.


BriAna Hartfield – Florida

RECIPIENT: Dranoff 2 Piano Foundation

The national grand prize winner, BriAna Hartfield of Miami, Florida will receive a $10,000 donation, a VIP trip to New York City for the Macy’s 4th of July fireworks, and a $500 Macy’s gift card. Hartfield submitted a spoken word video about her mother, who taught her about respect, love, and strength. Hartfield will donate her prize money to Dranoff 2 Piano Foundation, a performing arts center serving the greater Miami area.

We received thousands of photos, videos, and stories from people across the nation telling us who they wanted to thank for teaching them about respect. Thank you for sharing stories about your favorite role models—from parents and teachers to siblings and mentors. Check out our 12 inspiring regional winners:

Amy Bolton Mundell – Nebraska

RECIPIENT: Voices of Hope, Lincoln
REGION: Midwest

Respect – esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person.

Connie, a dear friend, always saw the worth and excellence in me. For years she watched me go through one relationship after another until the last one, where not only was every ounce of pride and self-worth sucked from me, but, my physical and emotional safety was taken from me. She told me she loved me, she told me I was worth so much more, and always said she’d be there for me, but prayed for me to see that I was worth more than the pain and suffering he put in my life.

The day I chose my freedom, she was the first person I told outside of my closest family. She hugged me, she told me she loved me, and that she was proud of me. She stood beside my heart, by my soul, by me when I had to fight for my safety, and that of my children.

She applauded me when I enrolled in school. She has cheered every step forward I’ve made. She smiles when I smile, but, now I see no pain in her smiles when she looks at me. She praises the happiness in my eyes, and always tells me she never had a doubt.

We all have bad days, and we make mistakes. To learn that we are worth more than the pain that others inflict, and that it is okay to say NO, is the greatest lesson that any human being can learn. Connie stood beside me, held my hand and picked me back up as I accepted that into my heart. For her, for ME, I hold my head high today. I’m worth it.

Ashly Asks – California

REGION: Northwest

Access SFUSD: The Arc is a community based program for students 18-22 with disabilities. We focus on teaching functional life skills within the community setting and San Francisco is our campus.

We strive to help students discover their passions, unlock their potential, and become involved members of the community. We offer an individualized program that works with each student’s goals and interests to further develop their skills, be it in community college or a vocational experience.

In our program, we incorporate digital media projects to show off our video and dance skills, promote self-determination, and create awareness of how important art and creative expression is in the lives of individuals with and without disabilities.

THE RESPECT CHALLENGE gave us the perfect opportunity for us to thank all the amazing people in our lives who have helped us get to where we are today. Thanks for watching!

Carolyn Edwards – Massachusetts

RECIPIENT: Community Call
REGION: Northeast

Monica Cannon is a mother of three children and an activist in the community on behalf of peace. She volunteers for any activity involving the community and she has her own initiative with the Back to School Block Party for Peace that she has organized for 5 years where donated food and backpacks are provided with support from the Sheriff’s Dept., local, and State Officials .

Living in a neighborhood where violence is a daily part of life, Monica stays positive in an effort to keep her children and the community safe. She stands high on her platform drawing attention from City leaders and the community to take back the streets. She has testified at the State House and held Boston City officials accountable. With every act of violence, she responds with a call to action rather than falling in defeat. Her smile and energy are contagious and she has used her faith and determination to make a difference in saving lives in Boston.

You can find Monica any place where someone needs help making a difference in the Community. She deserves the respect she gives to everyone and I proudly nominated her for the Respect Award. Thank you.

Gregory Daniel – Michigan

RECIPIENT: Health Delivery, Inc.
REGION: North Central

I would like to thank my father for teaching me what respect is. His influence has had a positive impact on what could have been a negative situation. Although my city has a lot of talent, there is a lot of negativity which made respect hard to be found in some areas of the community. However, my father guided me through all the bad apples that could have sent me down a path of destruction. He was tough but I see him as being like my own personal football coach or team player. I am the running back and my father is my lead blocker. This means he is committed to getting me through all the open holes in my life so that I can continue to score in this game we call a successful life.

My father may not be the richest man alive, but he is rich in wisdom and love. He has taught me valuable lessons that have made me face the reality of what I need to do to achieve my goals. He always reminded me that everything you do in life begins with having a positive attitude and having a sincere respect for self, others and what you plan to accomplish. I thank my father not only for teaching me respect, but showing me many ways to stay productive and independent. These life lessons are key in showing me the ends and outs to having a successful future. My father has always told me that knowledge is power. I am proud to say I have gained this power through respect. I have learned if you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything. I choose to stand for respect.

Laci Jackson – Florida

RECIPIENT: Chain of Lakes Collegiate High School
REGION: Southeast

Witnessing DV at a young age, I can tell you no child should have to go through seeing there family unfold right before their eyes. Partners should not have to be afraid of who they choose to be romantic with. Families should not live in the constant fear that maybe one day, the fight will go too far, maybe one day it will go too far to where a child may loose a parent. To where maybe one day, everything would be taken away and be left with nothing.

One thing I can be grateful for is my brother that has always shown me what respect is. To always let me know my worth and to never settle for anything less. To have a heart for people and care for other needs. To always give second chances even when not deserved. To love myself and to always love others no matter their background. To have a gentle heart and an open-mind. To put others before myself and to always give a helping hand.

Having love for others and treating them with kindness .

Thank you, brother, even when I am not having a great day to always keeping my head high and strong. Thank you for always keeping my heart golden. To love others without anger. To show love in ways without having to argue or fight. To only love with open arms and laughter. Thank you! #RespectChallenge2014

Lillian Horin – California

REGION: Southwest

I will never forget the thousands of conversations I had through a phone. But before that, I was depressed: I was critical of those who didn’t try hard enough, who didn’t catch on quickly, who didn’t share my beliefs. I was unempathetic and concerned only with why people didn’t like me, why they wanted to bully me. I only changed when TEENLINE, a teen-to-teen hotline centered in Los Angeles, accepted me into their program. There, I was able to learn about adolescent struggles from far more than my own lens. I learned how people coped, how they interacted with one another, and how people get to be in such pain. Slowly but surely, my view of the world was changing. I did not want to be the reason why someone went home and cried at night. Respect for a person goes a long way in making people’s lives better. Soon I found myself talking to teens who were suicidal or had been abused. They felt that everything had been stacked against them somehow. They worked so hard but it just wasn’t good enough for some people, and they thought something was wrong with them. But really, all they needed respect. RESPECT from adults willing to offer acknowledgement, RESPECT for their being and their bodies, RESPECT from their peers, even if it was just a smile walking down the hallway.

After TEENLINE, I knew that I could make a difference in someone’s day. In someone’s life. If we only learned and put empathy into practice, we could make so much real change in this world. Since 1980, TEENLINE has done so much to foster respect between individuals that I know it is making real world change. Thank you so much, TEENLINE.

Keri Singleton – New York

RECIPIENT: Louis D. Brown Peace Institute
REGION: North Atlantic

In 1967 Aretha Franklin famously belted out “”R-E-S-P-E-C-T”” in her iconic, Grammy Award-winning song “”Respect””. That seven letter word has been the basic foundation for our ability as humans to co-habitate in any civilized society. It doesn’t require us to agree on a particular subject, it simply dictates that we honor a difference of opinion and/or perspective. I credit my mother, Denise H. Singleton, for instilling in me the importance of respecting others.

On the day preceding Father’s Day in 1996 my dad was murdered in my hometown of Boston. His death, to date, remains an unsolved, cold case. Years later I served a prison 2 1/2 to 7 1/2 sentence in New York for charges of larceny and identity theft. Admittedly, my disregard for the law stemmed, in large part, to my father’s case being seemingly ignored by the Boston Police Department. I felt, in essence, “”disrespected”” by Boston’s legal system. My actions, however, not only devastated my family (most notably my mother) but they, of course, only hurt myself.

Upon completion of my sentence (I was released from Parole a year early due to my “”successful re-adjustment””), I enrolled in to college studying in Criminal Justice and earning a 4.0. GPA. I became an honorary member of Phi Theta Kappa, as my mother had years earlier. I was inspired by her to respect the law and make both her and my late father proud by striving for excellence and inspiring others to do so.

Today, I am an author, radio host, publicist, and mentor. My life embodies the importance of respecting others. My mom has been instrumental in my vow to live, and let live. Although I am still a work in progress I can point to my mother for being the architect of my temple’s new heights.

Patrick Doyle – Pennsylvania

RECIPIENT: Musicians on Call
REGION: Mid-Atlantic

My RA during my freshman year of college completely changed my life and taught me so much about learning not only what respect was, but how to properly respect the experiences of others. I lived on an all-male floor and our group was a bit obnoxious….ok, really obnoxious. My RA, being a sociology/psychology/women’s studies triple major, was really educated when it came to systems of oppression that most of us didn’t even know existed. At nearly every opportunity, Alec used our childish behavior to try to teach us a lesson about understanding those who did not come from the same systems of privilege that we did. Not once did he get upset or angry at us and he would remain incredibly patient until our questions were answered. His kind and gentle yet firm and determined leadership style inspired me to become an RA and discuss the same topics with my future residents. He also inspired me academically by doing research on victims of personal violence. He is now getting his PhD in Clinical Psychology and continuing to research those who do not have a voice in society. Alec not only taught me how to respect people, but he is easily one of the people in my life who I respect the most.

Scott Dong Jin Lee – Colorado

RECIPIENT: Andrew Jackson Elementary & Santa Ana Police Athletic & Activity League
REGION: Rockies

When I hear the word “respect”, I automatically think of my grandfather. I was born and raised in South Korea. When I was young, my grandfather and I used to go hiking a lot. While hiking up the mountain, he taught me values, what is right and wrong, and things that are really important in life. Respect was one of the topics that he always emphasized. Respect for elders, respect for parents, siblings, peers, opposite sex, and even to strangers that I don’t know. He always taught me that respect must be given first. He said respect is earned and it is not something that I will automatically get from everyone in my life. Back then, since I was so young, I didn’t fully understand what he was saying. I thought that I never really paid attention to what he said. 15 years later, even though my grandfather is no longer with me in this world, I can hear his voice in my head. Thanks to my grandfather, respect became not just something that I know, it became part of me. When I decided to join the United States Army, it was easy for me to adapt to the new military environment since respect was already part of my actions. When I see disrespectful behaviors in my soldiers, I always try to take the right approach to correct them and educate them about respect. It’s funny because sometimes I first think about, “what would grandpa say?” and then try to talk about the importance of respect to my surroundings. Grandpa, I thank you so much for teaching me about respect. I wouldn’t be the person that I am today if you weren’t part of my life. I miss you so much! #CO2014 #respectchallenege2014

Shirin Ahlhauser – Washington

RECIPIENT: Tahirih Justice Center
REGION: Capital

One of the most courageous people I know is my grandmother. I try to always remember to have respect for other people, but sometimes I forget to respect myself. But my grandmother taught me through her example that when you have respect for yourself and your own beliefs, you can go anywhere.

My grandmother was a Baha’i in Iran, where followers of the Baha’i Faith are persecuted. She was put in prison, because of her belief, even at grandmother age – in her sixties. The government wouldn’t let her out of Iran for many years because of her Faith. If only she recanted her Faith, they would have let her go. She refused and kept this respect for herself and her Faith.

And actually, she was also always respectful to the government and the guards who held her, even though they treated her very poorly.

Eventually the government let her leave the country and she came to the US and I was able to meet her. She learned English in her 70s. That alone is a huge feat. Her body was weak, and she fell down several times, breaking bones. The doctors told her that she wouldn’t be able to walk. She said, “”no, I want to walk.”” And she did. She put her determination forth and kept doing exercises until she was able to walk again (with a cane).

Her example has taught me to always respect myself and to never give up.

Jessica Moreno – Texas

RECIPIENT: Texas Council on Family Violence

My parents divorced when I was young because there was often a lack of respect in their relationship. It was the best decision they could have made and gave me two households to learn respect in. I learned respect for others, especially those who have nothing or need a little help, from my mother. She modeled compassion and respect for people no matter who they were or what others thought of them. I learned respect for myself and loved ones from my dad – something I later learned is an unfortunate rarity. He respected my choices and valued my input in discussions even when I was “just” a kid. He taught me that I deserved to respect myself and feel respected by my future partners. I was fortunate enough to learn not only from their mistakes but from their modeling as well. There were many other people I learned respect from through the years, but for most kids, it starts at home.

Amanda Peace – Kentucky

RECIPIENT: Women’s Crisis Center
REGION: Mid-East

My aunt Sande is one of the strongest women I’ve ever met. She’s a survivor of domestic violence, and I used to often wonder how she still managed to smile, to love and to see the best in humanity, even after experiencing the very worst of it. And then I found myself in an abusive relationship. I felt trapped – I didn’t know how to get out of the relationship, and even if I did, I figured I’d never be able to really trust people, let alone build relationships again. But as my situation began to intensify, I started to reflect on the conversations that my aunt and I had at our all-too-infrequent dinners together. My aunt is a beautiful soul with the strength of a warrior, and in just a few dinners a year, holidays, and a handful of sleepovers, she has taught me what it means to love and respect others, and to be loved and respected in return. She taught me that peace, strength, confidence, love, and happiness are all things that we must cultivate within ourselves, and that if you are able to do so, no one can ever take it from you. She taught me that we always, always have a choice, and even in the most difficult situations there are good things and lessons to be learned. That no matter what happens, I am good enough, and so is everyone else. We are equal, all deserving of the same love, dignity, and respect. She taught me that often, when people treat us poorly, it’s because they’re miserable themselves, and that it’s impossible to know what others struggle with, so be gentle. The key is to simply keep your mind and heart open, because people enter and leave our lives for a reason.