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Story Last modified at 8:34 p.m. on Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Spotlight: Melissa Lee Apodaca


Melissa Lee Apodaca

Hometown: Chugiak but currently in Colorado Springs studying exercise science at Pikes Peak Community College, while training full time to be an Olympic wrestling champion.

In the Spotlight because: Apodaca, a 2008 Chugiak High School graduate, is a Native American representing the United States in the sport of women's wrestling. Her goal is to "one day become an Olympic champion while having the opportunity to represent some very important, yet tragic issues from my childhood.

"Melissa combined three awareness ribbons; the purple ribbon, which stands for child abuse; the blue ribbon, which stands for childhood poverty; and the teal ribbon, which stands for sexual abuse," according to a 21 Changes press release. "In doing so she has created the '21 Change Ribbons' in hopes that someday it will become recognized worldwide."

On Apodaca's recent 21st birthday, she presented the "21 Change Ribbons" to the public, beginning her stance against these issues.

"Through all of the hardships and obstacles I was able to change my destiny against such difficult odds," Apodaca said in the press release. "By raising awareness of these issues we can help prevent future problems such as drug use, theft, and sexual, physical and, mental abuse.

"We could lower the rate of high school dropouts, teen pregnancy and teen suicide. Most of all, I believe my Change ribbon can give hope to kids who are going through what I went through and hopefully prevent what happened to me from happening to other kids."

To order a 21 Change Ribbon e-mail The cost is 75 cents.

Do you or does someone you know deserve a Spotlight spot? Please fill out Spotlight form under the "Community" tab at

This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, October 20, 2010.

Recommend someone your know for Spotlight