by Dennis Dalman
At age 12, Ayleigh Hammond of Sartell will be one of the all-time youngest American ambassadors to Paris and London.
Currently, Ayleigh, a sixth-grader at Sartell Middle School, is raising money for her planned ambassadorial journey.
Now 11, the Sartell girl has been chosen for the “People to People” program to represent the United States next summer during a two-week young ambassador trip to those two European cities. Started by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950s, the purpose of the People to People program is to allow young people from various countries to spend time with one another, to explore one another’s governments, cultures and societies. The ultimate objective is to promote good will, understanding and world peace.
A fundraiser for Ayleigh’s trip will take place from 6-9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6 at Celebration Lutheran Church in Sartell. The fundraiser is dubbed “Parents Night Out,” a chance for any parents to bring their children for three-hours of expert and supervised day care so the parents can spend some time by themselves, perhaps holiday shopping for their kids, for example. There is a charge per child. There will be games, movies and crafts for children of all ages to keep them happily busy. People do not need reservations; they can just drop their kids off at the church. Ayleigh herself, along with many adults, will be one of the many babysitters, as she has done a lot of babysitting.
Ayleigh and her parents, Kevin and Amy, are still not sure who nominated their daughter to become a People to People ambassador. All they know at this point is that last summer Ayleigh received an invitation to do an interview for the program, which she did at St. Cloud State University. She was later informed she had been accepted – one of a number of ambassadors from Minnesota and other states. Accompanied by adult chaperones, they will fly to London and later journey to Paris where they will stay in hotels and meet with young Londoners and Parisians throughout their busy days. They will also do some cultural touring in both cities, such as a visit to the House of Parliament in England and to the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre art museum in Paris.
“I’m really excited about the trip,” Ayleigh said.
Ayleigh’s ambassador trip will be her second trip to those two cities, although she doesn’t remember the first trip. She was only 3 years old when she went there with her family eight years ago. Her father hails from Peterborough in England, a city 80 miles north of London. He met Amy when both were at a summer camp in the Adirondack Mountains in New York. They hit it off well together, started dating and married in 1997. Later, they decided to move to the Upper Midwest to be closer to Amy’s family. Amy was born in Bismarck, N.D.
The couple eventually chose Sartell to set up home. Kevin is a student studying higher-education administration at SCSU. Amy is a registered nurse at Country Manor in Sartell. Both parents are very proud of their daughter for being chosen as an ambassador, as well as for her other achievements. Ayleigh enjoys gymnastics, soccer in summer league, Academics Triathlon and 4-H. Last year she sang with the St. Cloud-based Cantabile Choir, and she still sings with the Celebration Church Choir.