St. Louis (KSDK) -- 17 year old Madelyn McGlynn of Belleville is the St. Louis area's first Huggable Hero.

This is the 9th year for the Huggable Hero program through St. Louis-based Build-A-Bear Workshop. The program honors 15 outstanding young vounteers throughout the United States and Candada. Each Huggable Hero receives a $7,500 educational scholarship and $2,500 to donate to the charity of their choice.

McGlynn co-founded NETwork Against Malaria (NAM) to help save the lives of children in Uganda and to help keep them in school. The average Ugandan student misses 60 days of school a year due to malaria.

NAM provides malaria and health education for American and Ugandan students and raises funds for bed net distribution to Ugandan students and pregnant women. Madelyn has helped raise about $75,000 and purchased 5,500 bed nets to protect up to 16,500 children and pregnant women from malaria. Her leadership has inspired 30 high school and college NAM chapters in 18 states.

For more on NAM and ways you can help, visit NETWORKAGAINSTMALARIA.ORG.

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