Nashville - Eight-year-old Lauren Dillingham is a real life hero. "I just wanted other kids to feel special, so I tried to help them," said Dillingham.
Lauren was in Scottish Rites Hospital last year for fibrous dysplasia, a rare bone disease that damaged her jaw tissue. After he stay, she wanted to bring a little cheer to the other patients. "Being in the hospital can be pretty boring, so I wanted to help them have some fun and be happy," said Dillingham.
She created the "Love, Lauren" project, and collected 500 toys and $1,100 for sick children. "When I was there, I got a penguin for Valentines Day and some cards from children in Atlanta, and that made me really happy," said Lauren. "One day I was at home and thought I could give them something to make them happy like I was."
The hospital's volunteer coordinator was so impressed with the project, she nominated Lauren as Georgia's G.I. Joe American Hero. The award is given by Hasbro, Inc. to kids who have performed outstanding acts of bravery and selflessness. "I was really excited, and felt like I had really made a difference," said Dillingham.
Lauren was named the state winner and is now competing for the national title. Her mother, Rhonda Nash, says she's not surprised. "Lauren is a very loving, giving child, and we're really proud of her," said Nash.
Five national winners will be announced in August. They will receive a trip to Washington, D.C. and a $2500 donation to the charity of their choice.