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Meet the Young Americans Honored by Prince William for Their Work in Princess Diana's Name

The three young people were among 20 Legacy Award winners at the Diana Award ceremony

<p>Neil Munns - PA Images/PA Images via Getty</p> Princess Diana in London in April 1997

Neil Munns - PA Images/PA Images via Getty

Princess Diana in London in April 1997

They are the changemakers who have set up non-profits and are being honored in the name of the late Princess Diana.

The 20 Legacy Award winners of the Diana Award from around the world gathered in London on Thursday for a special event to receive their accolade from Prince William. The Prince of Wales, 41, attended the event solo amid his wife Kate Middleton's continued recovery from her abdominal surgery on Jan. 16.

Later on Thursday night, after the main ceremony in London, they will chat with Prince Harry, 39, who is set to video call the winners from his home in California.

Three of the winners are from the United States. The trio — Hailey Richman from New York City, Olivia Zhang from McLean, Virginia, and Sikander "Sonny" Khan from Michigan — were all born after Princess Diana died following a car crash in 1997.

But Richman is aware of the princess's impact. "She not only inspired me but the people around her that if you have the ability to do so you should give back to those around you," she says.

<p>Arthur Edwards - WPA Pool/Getty</p> Prince William with Hailey Richman at the Legacy Awards evening at the Science Museum, London on Mar. 14

Arthur Edwards - WPA Pool/Getty

Prince William with Hailey Richman at the Legacy Awards evening at the Science Museum, London on Mar. 14

Khan adds that Diana "embodies those concepts of knowing that your background doesn’t define your work or potential."

The royal, says Zhang, used "her position and power to care for the vulnerable."

Khan says, "It is such a cool milestone to receive such an honor. I'm very excited for the opportunity to join a network of such young changemakers that are so dedicated and passionate about their cause and truly embody making that difference.”

Related: Prince William and Prince Harry to Appear Separately at Event in Late Mother Princess Diana's Name

<p>The Diana Award</p> Hailey Richman, who has received a Legacy Award from the Diana Award

The Diana Award

Hailey Richman, who has received a Legacy Award from the Diana Award

Hailey Richman, 16, from New York City, set up KidCaregivers, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting young carers dealing with grandparents affected by Alzheimer’s. She created an online support group for children to connect and share experiences. They also launched a program pairing young volunteers and people with Alzheimer's for puzzle-solving sessions, mobilizing more than 2,000 students and Girl Scouts to distribute more than 136,000 jigsaw puzzles to over 5,000 care homes, reaching upwards of 500,000 people with Alzheimer’s. She started expanding her organization when she was just 8.

The award, she says, “will help spread awareness but also inspire other young people around the world to do something to make a change.”

She tells PEOPLE, "I knew that Princess Diana did a lot of volunteering and that inspired me to want to do the Diana Award. I wanted to honor her and give back in my own way. Because I know she did a lot of giving back to the community and helping others.”

This week, meeting the other 19 recipients who have gathered in London, she says, "It's been very nice to be able to connect with other young people who are making a difference around the world.”

<p>The Diana Award</p> Olivia Zhang, who has received a Legacy Award from the Diana Award

The Diana Award

Olivia Zhang, who has received a Legacy Award from the Diana Award

Olivia Zhang, 18, from McLean, Virginia, set up Cancer Kids First, the world's largest youth-led organization that works towards lessening the challenges pediatric cancer patients face. She wanted to carry on the legacy of her grandparents, who were elementary school teachers.

"They would prioritize putting their students first," she tells PEOPLE. "I wanted to create an organization that would put children of cancer first.”

<p>Arthur Edwards - WPA Pool/Getty</p> Prince William and Olivia Zhang at the Legacy Awards evening at the Science Museum, London on Mar. 14

Arthur Edwards - WPA Pool/Getty

Prince William and Olivia Zhang at the Legacy Awards evening at the Science Museum, London on Mar. 14

Her biggest challenge was convincing organizations and fundgivers to believe in her and creating partnerships. “Along the way I realized what we can do and other young people can do is very powerful," she says, adding they've been "learning how to pitch efficiently and how to sell the passion in our story."

“My efforts can show young people that they can make a difference in their community as well, and inspire other generations of changemakers. [The award] helps expand the reach that my story has.”

<p>The Diana Award</p> Sikanda Khan, who has received Legacy Award from the Diana Award

The Diana Award

Sikanda Khan, who has received Legacy Award from the Diana Award

Along with some friends at university, Sonny Khan, 26, founded the Paani Project which tackles Pakistan’s lack of secure access to clean water. It has raised over $3.1 million. To date, they have built over 9,300 water wells that serve more than 700,000 villagers. Khan says of his and others' work: "It’s amazing what young people can do when working with others that share the passion and dedication to making a difference.”

“The award is a huge honor and a testament to the vision and passion and dedication that myself and everybody that’s been involved with my mission," he adds.

<p>Arthur Edwards - WPA Pool/Getty</p> Sonny Khan after receiving his Legacy Award from Prince William on Mar. 14

Arthur Edwards - WPA Pool/Getty

Sonny Khan after receiving his Legacy Award from Prince William on Mar. 14

And he tells PEOPLE of the bonding the 20 recipients have done this week as they learn from each other and gain mentoring.

“We’ve already spent so much time together learning from some of the most brilliant young minds about how they approach problems and take their passions to help so many people in the most important and delicate issues that are at the core of humanity.”

Khan says Diana holds a special place among immigrants and people in Pakistan – her visits to the country in the later years of her life had a deep impact. "Her dedication and love to the community just touched everyone’s hearts."

"She was challenging traditional norms and symbolizing the possibility of accepting and integrations. That is something that immigrants have to deal with all the time."

<p>Arthur Edwards - WPA Pool/Getty</p> Prince William attends the Diana Legacy Awards at the Science Museum in London on March 14, 2024

Arthur Edwards - WPA Pool/Getty

Prince William attends the Diana Legacy Awards at the Science Museum in London on March 14, 2024

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Tessy Ojo, CEO of the Diana Award, added to PEOPLE, “It’s a privilege to have the support of both The Prince of Wales and The Duke of Sussex - particularly as we mark our 25th anniversary year."

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