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Hero Central: Coopersville's 10-year-old 'Citizen of the Year' | Community Spirit

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Hero Central: Coopersville's 10-year-old 'Citizen of the Year'

COOPERSVILLE, Mich. - Every year, the mayor of Coopersville hands out a "Citizen of the Year" award to a person who has made an impact on the community.

This year's distinction was given to Shelby Lynn Meintsma -- a 10-year-old fifth-grader.

"She's an incredible young lady," said Coopersville Mayor Kenneth Bush.

And everyone in town will tell you, Shelby is no ordinary 10-year-old.

"I just try to work my hardest do get my work done, do the stuff I have to do," Meinstsma said. "And then if I have free time, that's the free time I can have."

She finds that free time, but it's often not much. On Thursday, Mayor Bush presented her with a plaque for winning the honor.

She received it in an empty media center during her scheduled recess. From the window, her friends ran in circles on the playground, while she talked with her principal and the mayor about an upcoming blood drive she's putting on in December.

"Sometimes you just gotta put things before you," she stated. "I put the community before the things I could be doing...before anything else."

She is the youngest person ever to receive Coopersville's Citizen of the Year Award.

She's being recognized for breaking records with organizing blood drives, health fairs and a bone marrow drive.

Meintsma says she was inspired when her mom became ill.

"My mom was diagnosed with a disease called Evan's Syndrome," she said.

Evan's Syndrome is a rare immune system disorder where a person's antibodies attack their own red blood cells. Patients often need several blood transfusions in a short period of time. Shelby's mother is currently going through treatments in Ann Arbor for the illness.

"I was sad," she said about when she heard the diagnosis. "I felt like I had to do something."

Meintsma organized several blood drives, health fairs and a bone marrow drive.

Mayor Bush said he selected Shelby for her ability to connect to the community.

"The first blood drive she did, we had over 50 participants, that was outstanding," he said. "That's very rare for a blood drive to have that many people show up."

She has another blood drive coming up in December.

"I just want to make my community a better place than it already is," she said.

By Steve Patterson and Matt Campbell