MIDDLETOWN, Pa. (WHTM) — Vincent “Vinny” Corradi is currently a Junior at Middletown High School. His love for art has lead him to become a finalist in Vans’ High School Custom Culture contest, and he’s in the running to win $50,000 for his school’s art department.

Vinny is a very quiet kid, but anyone around him will tell you how special he is. He paints custom shoes in his free time and has grown quite the side business from it. He jokes that his dad is his “manager” because “he’s always pushing me more, helping me price my shoes, and even buying the supplies I need to create them.”

Vinny’s teacher, Mrs. Liz Strite, learned about the contest from Vinny and was delighted to allow him time and inspiration for the contest. The contest recommends that several students help in the design process, so she gathered some of her students to help Vinny with some ideas. This year’s contest included two different themes to choose from: “Hometown Pride” and “Head in the Clouds.” After some deliberation between the group, Vinny settled on his “Head in the Clouds” theme and began his design. He submitted the final design and quickly learned that Vans chose him to be one of 250 finalists in the contest.

Strite saw the potential in Vinny from the time he entered the art program as a Freshman. He quickly approached her to jump up a level in the program, and shortly after she realized that he had more potential, they agreed to advance him to the third stage of the program in his first year of high school. She says she will definitely be using Vinny as an example to her future students, showing that you never know what can happen with your art if you don’t share it to the world.

Vinny is no stranger to designing shoes. From one look at his Instagram page, you can see that he has been a regular in bringing life to plain shoes. His work has reached the attention of several collegiate wrestlers from across the country who have contacted Vinny to design shoes for them. Vinny is a wrestler himself, so seeing that the athletes he looks up to want his work is very inspirational for him.

He credits the contest for helping him gain confidence in his work. He said that before getting the recognition, he didn’t always feel confident about his art. But knowing that a huge company like Vans felt his work was good enough to be a part of the contest is a huge boost to his confidence.

The next round of submissions is due by Friday, April 16. The top 50 finalists will be announced on April 26, followed by a round of public voting to determine the winners through May 7. The winner will receive $50,000 to go towards the art department in their school. Four runners-up will each win $15,000 for their art department.

Vans High School Custom Culture is a contest created in hopes to inspire and empower high school students to embrace their creativity through art and design.