by JENNIFER FRAKES | photos by Zeena Gregg Photography

While many ten-year-old boys ask for the latest electronic gadget or the hottest video game for their birthdays, Benjamin Antoniades had another idea. “Last year, my best friend Liam Brogan and I had a joint 10th birthday party. We asked our friends to make a donation to the Rivers of Hope Foundation instead of giving us gifts. Rivers of Hope is Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers’ charity that helps orphaned kids in San Diego find permanent homes. We raised over $600,” declared Benjamin, who was recognized along with Liam on the Rivers of Hope website and received a personal thank you note from Phillip Rivers himself.

Benjamin, a fourth grader at Solana Highlands Elementary School, is also active in promoting awareness and fundraising for the Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Foundation. “Every year my school raises money for the CF Foundation by [having students] bring in coins. I really try to help raise money and awareness about CF at my school because my cousin Alyssa has it. She has to do special breathing treatments, take pills every time she eats and even have surgeries. Every year, I give money that I save to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation,” explained Benjamin.

It is no surprise that Benjamin has been recognized on multiple occasions for exhibiting exemplary character while at Solana Highlands. Benjamin’s favorite subject is math and he credits his friends, the teachers and the Principal for creating an extraordinary school environment. “I love our school because I have made so many friends and the teachers are so nice. Most of all, I really like our principal Mr. Jones. He’s awesome,” stated Benjamin.

In his spare time Benjamin enjoys going to restaurants with his family, watching Sam the Cooking Guy on television and going on vacations. He also plays soccer, baseball, basketball and flag football. According to Benjamin, soccer and baseball are sports near and dear to his family. “I started playing soccer because my dad is from England and he loves soccer. I started playing baseball because my mom is a huge Chicago Cubs fan. She knows more about baseball than any other mom I know,” remarked Benjamin, who aspires to be a professional athlete.