2 Teen Community Leaders Awarded Friendship Scholarship for Exemplifying Kindness and Equity

Two teens who participated actively in their communities just received a high honor.

John Renert and Chase Cooper have been named The Friendship Journey’s 2023 Jaime Guttenberg and Gina Montalto Friendship Scholarship Award Winners.

The scholarships honor graduating seniors who exemplify Jaime and Gina’s friendship and kindness.

A celebration for the two recipients takes place May 21 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. at Broward Center for The Performing Arts. The event will include brunch, awards, and a short ceremony.

“The Friendship Journey taught me how to always treat everyone with respect and kindness and also to have patience for everyone,” Renert said. “I’ve made great friendships that I am so grateful for.”

The Friendship Journey aims to unite individuals of all abilities through equitable opportunities and lasting friendships. The nonprofit provides inclusive programs that foster relationships, enrich lives and create a community that is home to everyone.

In its inclusive activities, The Friendship Journey honors Guttenberg and Montalto — two student volunteers who lost their lives in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High shooting.

Renert has been involved in The Friendship Journey since 2019. He is part of peer counseling, has rescued stray animals and volunteered at the humane society, participated in a beach cleanup in honor of Montalto, and is on the Florida Panthers Special Hockey team.

John said that Gina and Jaime are always in his heart and that he especially loves drawing and dancing in their honor. He also strives to be kind to his peers and animals.

Cooper has been involved in The Friendship Journey since 2018. He feels his experience has shaped his perspective on friendship and equity and that he’s learned how to create lifelong friendships with others.

“Jaime and Gina inspire me every day to fight for causes that I truly believe in,” Cooper said. “The Friendship Journey has shown me how people should be treated with more empathy and kindness in this world.”

Cooper, who plans to study political science and governmental history at Lynn University, hopes to advocate for people with disabilities and always does his best to treat everyone with dignity and respect.

“Jaime and Gina were compassionate and kindhearted, and they have inspired me to serve my community,” he said.

Community members are welcome to join this special celebration led by The Friendship Journey, sponsored by the Broward Center for the Performing Arts—all proceeds for the May 21 brunch support the scholarship fund. Donate or purchase tickets at Brunch2023.