12-Year-Old Teaches Lobbying for Animal Rights Activist

Did you make any resolutions? If so, how is it going meeting those goals?

I choose not to make resolutions -- instead, I make aspirations. Resolutions make me feel that I have not met expectations and that's a very uninspiring way to start the year.

I like to put a positive spin on goal-making, by setting aspirations. I hope to inspire you to challenge yourself to aspire to new heights. Take you to the next level -- YOU 2.0.

I strive to be more organized, which includes Go Inspire Go syndication, to be more deliberate with carving out time with loved ones and to be less serious and have "fun" with every aspect of my life.

Last year, I aspired to crowdfund and crowdsource Go Inspire Go stories. My team and I had an innovative and interactive goal of spotlighting 50 heroes in 50 states. It resulted in an extremely successful campaign, numerous blessings and new friendships. We traveled to New York, Florida, Arizona, Georgia and Southern California to meet heroes through the support of our viewers. Thank you to everyone who made this journey possible.

Please meet our third "50/50" hero, 12-year-old Thomas Ponce from Florida. He has a special gift of inspiring people to protect animals through his infectious poise and passion. He's the voice for creatures who can only meow, woof and (fill in your favorite animal sound here).

Through his website, LobbyForAnimals.org, he teaches his global audience how to lobby for animal rights.

I was in awe after meeting this accomplished tween, who has the poise of a seasoned elected official and a heart of gold. You just want to do something, anything, after hearing him speak. Nearly everyone Thomas touches says they were inspired to take action by his message: "Don't Just Dream of Change, Lobby for It!"

Courtesy: Thomas Ponce

See how he inspired an animal rights lawyer in New York and lawmaker in Florida to help him help animals. Can we give him a high five helping hand? (Or at least a high five social media shout out here?) His goal: to educate people with the power to better and save the lives of animals.

12-Year-Old Animal Rights Activist

Who: Thomas Ponce

What: Educates and Inspires People to Speak Up for Animals via LobbyForAnimals.org

Where: Casselberry, Florida

Why: Discovered his passion at age 4, after Mother gave him a chicken nugget

The Catalyst

Courtesy: Thomas Ponce
Thomas Ponce from Casselberry, Fla., discovered his passion for protection animals at age 4. His inspiration? A chicken nugget. That's when Thomas' mom, Kim, served him chicken nuggets for the first time and told him they were made from chickens.

"I made that two and two connection," Thomas said. "You know a chicken was killed to make a chicken nugget. I just decided I didn't want to contribute to that cruelty anymore," explaining his impetus for animal advocacy.

The Act

Courtesy: Thomas Ponce
Thomas joined animal rights organizations and spent countless hours on the picket line -- all in the name of educating about animal protection and inspiring people to do what they can to alleviate animal cruelty.

He took his passion for animal rights to the next level and is now teaching people how to lobby their politicians to protect animals through his website, www.lobbyforanimals.org.

When Thomas attended the National Animal Rights conference in Washington D.C., he met animal rights attorney Jessica Astrof.

"This young man raised his hand and asked us questions like, 'I need to know how I can get funding for my organization,' " Astrof said. "I was shocked to see that he looked like he was only 10 or 11 years old."

The Ripples

It's hard not to be persuaded by Thomas' infectious energy. His parents no longer eat meat. One former teacher says he no longer goes to the circus.

"I chose to be vegan because I choose to live a compassionate cruelty free life, not just because I don't want to eat meat. I try my hardest to bring as little harm to any living being as possible and that message is important to me to get out," Thomas said.

Last year, Thomas presented research around shark finning to Florida State Senator David Simmons. The senator was inspired to draft a bill that would prohibit the possession, sale, trade, purchase, shipping, barter, exchange and distribution of shark fins. It is being reviewed by several committees.

Thomas' hope is that everyone his story touches will do something, anything in the name of animal rights.

In the words of Thomas Ponce, "Don't Just Dream of Change, Lobby for It!"

What can YOU do?!

Take Action

1. Learn more and support Lobby For Animals (www.lobbyforanimals.org)

2. Be the change. Find legislative issues affecting animals in your state, county,
city or local community. Call and write your lawmakers.

3. Do whatever is in your power to take action against animal cruelty, testing and abuse.

For more information on our 50/50 campaign, check out our blog: 50 Heroes, 50 States, 1 Inspiring Journey!

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