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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A South Florida student has recognized by the President of the United States for her passion when it comes to giving back.

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Alessandra Maggioni, a senior at Gulliver Preparatory School, was awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award at a surprise ceremony at the school on Wednesday. The award recognizes Americans of all ages who have volunteered significant amounts of their time to serve their communities and their country, something Maggioni has been doing so for years.

“I was extremely excited when I got the recognition, throughout all my work of community service, I have never done it to receive recognition, the fact that it is that it fuels my passion,” said Maggioni.

When she was 10 years old, Maggioni was diagnosed with a severe case of scoliosis, an abnormal curve of the spine to the side. The diagnosis ended her dreams of becoming a professional tennis player.

Four years later she underwent an intensive surgery procedure; her back was reconstructed with two metal rods and 26 screws.

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The surgery changed her life in every way from the physical to the emotional.

Maggioni decided to help others dealing with her same condition. The 17-year-old said her dream of playing tennis was replaced by another passion in life – giving back.

Maggioni became an ambassador for Nicklaus Children’s Hospital and now attends hospital fundraisers where she speaks publicly about her journey to raise funds to benefit children with her same condition. She also spends countless hours at the hospital talking to children, and their parents, dealing with her same condition.

Among her many accomplishments, Maggioni was nominated for a Silver Knight Award and she’s working on a patent to help other patients recovering from spinal fusion surgery.

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“If we were to just get one person or two people to start giving back, this world would change in the blink of an eye,” said Maggioni.

Marybel Rodriguez