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To the untrained eye, Cody Mitchell’s life has been dominated by instability and unpredictability—complicating factors in any young person’s life. But if you know Cody, you see something else: Endurance and focus. An ability to lead others even while your own life is being led in a million different directions. A commitment to service while waiting for other people to commit themselves to you.

As a member of the U.S. Naval Sea Cadets program, an education program for 11- to 17-year-olds, Cody has often volunteered himself for Color Guard and special event opportunities, including the retirement of a Naval Officer where he was awarded with a Certificate of Appreciation; he also earned a Certificate of Completion for completing his Basic Military Requirements, a Perfect Attendance Award for attending all his drill weekends and a Certificate of Accomplishment. Unsurprisingly, he aspires to join the U.S. Navy one day. In the meantime, Cody is completing the Masonry Program at Penta Vocational School; even here he has earned the title of Foreman. His leadership extends to his relationships with other foster youth, where he has made the extra effort to use his experiences to mentor younger kids.

That experience has been taken Cody on quite an adventure. He was placed in a family foster home in 2005, but his treatment needs forced a move to a group home in Toledo, Ohio in May of ’06. That home closed in August of ’09, so Cody moved to another group home—which closed a few months later when its director became ill, necessitating another move. This became his current placement; Cody is now 17. Through the Sea Cadets program, he has met a family that is considering adopting him. Cody’s accomplishments shine a light on the power of focus and drive in the face of what many would consider a life of distraction and difficulty. But Cody Mitchell refuses to see it that way, and instead sees his life—every day of it—as an opportunity.