MERRILLVILLE | Elizabeth Niemiec was still in high school when she founded an organization for granting hospitalized children's wishes.
Now 20, Niemiec was one of six people honored Wednesday at the Radisson Star Plaza during a gathering of nearly 650 local business, civic, education and health care and other industry leaders for the One Region 2013 annual luncheon.
"These are people who go beyond everyday commitments to give back to their community," said Danita Johnson Hughes, president and CEO of Edgewater Systems, and a member of the board of directors of One Region.
"They spend their extra time making lives better for others," said Johnson Hughes, a member of the One Region board of directors.
One Region was founded in 2008 by former Times Media Co. Publisher Bill Masterson Jr. and now has 16 action initiatives covering areas such as health care, environment, education, veterans issues and public safety.
Niemiec's Little Wish Foundation has raised more than $200,000 to provide services to children, including in children's hospitals throughout Indiana.
She now attends Butler University, where she studies arts administration with the hope of making the foundation a global organization.
Niemiec received the One Region Promise of the Future award.
Honored for lifetime achievement were Bill Nangle, executive editor of The Times Media Co.; David Bochnowski, chairman and CEO of Peoples Bank; and Diana Dibkey, former executive director of Dunebrook, a parent resource and child advocacy center.
Recognized for outstanding contributions were Peggy Buffington, the superintendent of schools for School City of Hobart, and Garrard McClendon, an award-wining talk show host, professor and author.