LAKEWOOD, Calif. - This week's ABC7 Cool Kid is Maria Stewart, who volunteers to help children with special needs.
Maria and her twin sister Christina were diagnosed with autism at age 2. But she hasn't let that slow her down from helping others.
The 16-year-old Lakewood High School sophomore volunteers with Buddy Baseball, which pairs up adults or older students with kids who have disabilities.
"I want to give every kid with special needs a chance to play this great pastime and to also meet new friends," she said.
Her mother, Connie Stewart, said it's been a long road for her girls, but with hard work and dedication they've been able to overcome many obstacles.
"You know when you get that diagnosis you think of all the things they won't be able to do, but then when you see what they've achieved then you know there is hope at the end of the tunnel," she said.
Besides Buddy Baseball, Maria is part of her high school theater team, cheerleading and dance.
One big highlight for her was being recognized for her efforts by former President Barack Obama.
"I don't think there is another parent in this world that could be more proud of their daughter," Connie Stewart said.
Know an amazing young person making a difference in the community? Learn how to nominate them to be an ABC7 Cool Kid at abc7.com/coolkids.