10 Rising Hearts: Student walks to feed hungry kids

He embraces a program to count steps to earn points to feed children.

A middle school student helps feed hungry children one step at a time.

Mason Helton encourages his family to walk with him, even the cat named Bark.

"She just walks around pretty much and smells stuff and eats the grass," Mason said.

When they walk, the 12-year-old wears an activity tracker on his wrist. He got it at school last year when his sixth grade teacher signed his class up for UNICEF Kid Power.

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"I have to give a shout out to Mrs. Treece at Northwest Middle School because she's the real hero in this," said Mason's mother, Cheryl Overholt.

The Kid Power band counts steps to earn points. Then corporations like Target partner with UNICEF to link those points to purchases of food packets for hungry children around the world.

"She didn't give them rewards for doing the steps or anything it's just kind of a way to show them that it's a reward in itself to help hungry kids in the U.S. and other countries," Cheryl said.

10 RISING HEARTS: Nominate a student who is making a difference

At the end of the school year, Mason asked to keep the band to continue to earn food for children he's never met.

"I like helping people and stuff. I just thought it would be good to do," he said.

Hos mother said, "Even when there was no one to motivate him like his teacher he would motivate us," his mother said. "He's the one (saying) 'Let's go for a walk. I want to get steps.' And that made me real proud of him."

While the program helps kids in the U.S. get active that's not Mason's motive to walk. He imagines how the children on the other end of the process feel about receiving food.

"Probably really happy because a total stranger is helping them," he said.

His mother isn't surprised that her son is continuing the program and setting an example for others.

"He's really good at rallying the troops together to get something done for the good of other people and we're really proud of him," she said.

His enthusiasm has certainly spread to the rest of his family, maybe even the cat.

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We are featuring students making a difference here in East Tennessee in our new series called 10 Rising Hearts. These are students who reach beyond their schools and families to help make our community better. To nominate a student, please send an email describing them and their community service to 10Hearts@wbir.com.

10 Rising Hearts