joshua-williams_web.jpgFORT LAUDERDALE — Five years ago, when he was 5 years old, Joshua Williams saw images of starving children while watching TV with his mother.

What the young boy saw on his television screen so troubled him that he decided to do something about it.

He decided to find a way to play a part in ensuring that all children have access to healthy and nutritious food.

With the help of his family, Joshua started Joshua’s Heart Foundation. Over the past five years, the organization has donated more than 300,000 pounds of food to nearly 7,000 needy South Florida families.

His foundation also started a backpack program to provide needy kids with food for the weekends.

The Miami Beach fifth grader’s initiative won him a spot among three finalists in the second annual Broward Health Chris Evert Children’s Hospital Powerful Kid Contest. He won in the elementary school category.

The other finalists were Jacob Goldberg, 17, a triathlete, marathoner, in the high school division, and Alec Halberstadt, 12, a seventh-grader of Weston, in the middle school division.

Alec spends his weekends as a “Buddy Coach” for the Weston Hawks basketball and baseball teams which were set up specially for South Florida children with autism and related disabilities. He is also an avid supporter of his brother, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, a development disorder similar to autism.

Jacob, who is legally blind and has Tourette’s Syndrome, a neurological disorder, is founder of Together We See, which helps raise money to send blind children to summer camps and has raised more than $45,000 to date.

The stories of the three finalists were selected by a panel of judges from more than 100 entries. The public had a chance to vote online for one of the them as South Florida’s Most Powerful Kid and and Jacob got nearly half of the votes.

“I am extremely humbled by being voted South Florida’s Most Powerful Kid but Alec and Joshua are definitely winners in my book,” Jacob said at a recent presentation ceremony on June 7 at Chris Evert Children's Hospital at Broward General Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale, when the overall winner was announced.

“I’d also like to thank my family and friends; I wouldn’t be here today without their support,” Jacob said.

His prize package included a Macbook Air, an iPad 2, an iPhone 4, an iPod nano, Beats by Dr. Dre high-performance headphones, a flat panel HD TV, an Xbox 360 with Kinect and a $100 iTunes gift card.

“Jacob’s bravery in the face of daily adversity and his unrelenting desire to help out his fellow blind peers embody the spirit we try to celebrate in the Powerful Kid Contest,” said Frank Nask, Broward Health president and chief executive officer. “I can’t imagine a more deserving winner.”

Joshua and Alec got a similar prize package, except for the TV and the Xbox 360 bundle.