Friday, March 29, 2013

Young Achievers

Young Achievers:
Aaron Sohacki
Like a lot of kids, Aaron Sohacki’s dad took him to watch airplanes take off and land at the airport. Like some kids, his love for watching planes turned into a love of flying, and he got his pilot’s license before his driver’s license. Uniquely, his love for flying turned into a passion for running a business that flies other people.
When Sohacki was 20, he started ImagineAir. It’s a regional company that lets regular folks fly privately. Along the way, he has flown some not-so-regular people like one of his first clients, the former mayor of Augusta, Georgia, who needed to fly to have dinner with Rudy Giuliani.
The charter service takes people 300-500 miles from the headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. Considered a new version of a taxi service, the “air taxi” often costs less than commercial travel. Now age 24, the CEO still flies customers and often gets asked, “Are you even old enough to fly this plane?”

Genevieve Thiers
Genevieve Thiers was the oldest of seven kids, which meant she started baby-sitting almost as soon as she was born. But all the diapers, Friday nights in and lousy tips eventually paid off with millions.
In college, Thiers saw a pregnant woman posting fliers around campus for a baby-sitter. It was cheaper than going through an agency, which could cost in the thousands of dollars. After meeting her future husband online, Thiers thought that there had to be a better way. So she started, her real-life version of the “Baby-sitters Club” of young adult fiction.
The site launched in 2001 and has grown beyond connecting parents and sitters to bring together people in search of elder care and pet care with the caregivers of their choice. And now, at 29, Thiers gets to go out on Friday nights!

Blake Taylor
Yes, he set fire to the dinner table with contact lens solution. Yes, he stayed in on the weekends because he had no friends. Yes, he had to clean the urinals as punishment for acting out in class. But Blake Taylor is done being punished and finally ready to proudly say to the world, “Yes, I have ADHD.”
According to the CDC, 4.7 million Americans 18 or under have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Now 18, Taylor is the youngest person to write a memoir about living with it. He says his book, “ADHD & Me,” is the guidebook he never had growing up – a way to deal with the daily struggles from someone who has actually been there and not just studied the disorder.
Taylor is now a freshman molecular biology major at the University of California, Berkeley, where his book is used in the curriculum. Professors tout it because it’s the first time academia and the general public can see the once-taboo disorder being tackled with candor, since diagnosis only really started to spike in the 1990s. Through anecdotes about taking tests and dealing with tics, Taylor aims to tackle the often-stigmatized side effects of the disorder, which if left untreated, he says, only worsen when someone gets older. “You wouldn’t want to set fire to a table ever, but especially not when you’re 30, right?”

Jason Rae
Not too many kids tell their parents who to vote for when they are 5 years old or ask their fourth-grade teacher to watch the presidential inauguration. But what would you expect from a 21-year-old superdelegate?
Jason Rae went from being a U.S. Senate page to the youngest elected representative of the Democratic National Committee while he was in high school. He actually couldn’t vote when he was first elected because he was six months shy of 18. But he wanted to represent what he calls “America’s next generation.” So, he and his friends hand-painted posters with the slogan “A ray of hope for the future.” It worked.
What about his future? Rae says, “I remember back in kindergarten saying I wanted to run for president, but I’ll settle for an elected office.” These days he is relishing the fact he’s being wooed by both sides for his coveted vote in the close Democratic race for the 2008 presidential nomination — dining with Sen. Hillary Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea, meeting with Sen. Barack Obama and chatting with the highest-profile politicians from across the country.
How will he vote? He hasn’t said, but we’ll try to get it out of him.

Stephanie Mockler
In real life, her first car was a Volkswagen bug when she was 16. In her racing life, Stephanie Mockler was driving quarter midget cars, tiny racecars that children can drive, at the age of 6. Now at 20, she is a record-setting driver.
Mockler became the first female to win a USAC Ford Focus Midget Series when she finished at the Indianapolis Speedrome. She is also the eighth woman in the United States Auto Club’s history to win a feature race. And she is the youngest female to ever win a USAC main event.
She gets the whole “Danica Patrick” thing a lot. Patrick is a 25-year-old Indy Racing League driver. Mockler is quick to point out that not all racing is the same and that she hopes to take the NASCAR track. But one thing between them is the same, “When you put on the helmet, you’re just another racer.”

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