Day 166

The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra. – Jimmy Johnson

It’s 8: 33 PM on day 166 of my journey towards independence and I’ve managed to brush my teeth, feed myself bun, steak and mash potatoes for breakfast, watch Ramona and Beezus with my siblings on DVD – it was utterly charming 🙂 I would recommend it to anyone with a family – it’s got something in it for everybody – feed myself a banana lunch,     tweet about my Clean Water For All Campaign for a few hours – no luck today – feed myself strawberry yoghurt  for dinner and watch TV.

A few months ago I had the immense pleasure of meeting Gabe who together with her 12-year-old daughter MaryMargaret founded Kids Are Heroes – a non-profit that empowers, encourages and inspires children to become leaders through volunteerism and community involvement. We do this by showcasing and supporting children who are changing the world through their selfless acts of giving – and today I finally to visit their website and this is just some of what I’ve found:

The first 10 stories featured on

In January, Aidan Ortiz was watching 20/20 with his mother called “Be the Change: Save a Life.”

He was so taken aback by the fact that there is an immense amount of unclean water the world over, especially in places like Africa and Asia that the next evening he asked his mother at dinner if he could donate his birthday this year to charity.

In a nutshell, he started asking all the kids in his class to donate $8.00 as well as his family and friends to reach his original goal of $800.00 set by his mom.

Aidan insisted on going beyond his target and raising $5000 by the end of the campaign. He is more than halfway there, and is still working hard at it.


Isabelle heard a story about twin girls born prematurely in Haiti in Sept of 2007.The girls mother died in child birth. They were left to die. After hearing this whole story, she was brought to tears and said, “Mom, we have to do something to help.”

She loves doing art, so she decided to use her creative talents to design and create handmade cards to sell for donations to build homes for orphans around the world. Each home costs about $5000 to build, she was able to reach her first $5000 in June of 2008 and that home in Titayen, Haiti was completed and housed 6 girls by May 2009. Isabelle traveled to Haiti in June of 2009 to meet and play with the 6 girls who occupied the home she funded. It was an amazing trip that fueled her passion to make sure more kids were able to have homes to live in and someone to care for them.

After she finished funding that first home in June of 2008 – we, her parents, thought she would feel that she had accomplished her goal and would be done. But she wasn’t, as long as there are children without homes, parents, and food, she believes her work isn’t finished. She has been blessed to have local and national attention for her story generating so many donations and help in various forms for orphaned and abandoned children around the world. She has also had the privilege of speaking up for those who cannot speak up for themselves to children and adults from small groups to large groups. We are so very proud of her compassion and desire to help others!

When Brianna’s cousin was deployed to Afghanistan she decided she would write him letters every week. She wanted him to “smile” while he was fighting a war. Within a few weeks one of his friends asked her if she would write him too. She decided there was a need for soldiers to receive smiles while in Afghanistan. So, she created Bri’s Project Send a Smile.

She quickly adopted two more soldiers in the same company and began writing weekly letters and sending occasional care packages.

At Christmas she sent out 44 Christmas cards to the list of soldiers she knew had said they would welcome pen pals. Two soldiers wrote back and she was up to six “send a smile soldiers”. She writes these soldiers weekly letters and does care packages for them. Her girl scout troop will have donation boxes set up so people can help send Girl Scout cookies to Afghanistan.

This group of soldiers’ deployment ends in August 2011 and she plans to continue Bri’s Project Send a Smile by adopting a new set of soldiers that will be leaving after them. It is her goal to send “smiles” to soldiers who are away from home fighting a war as long as there are soldiers who need it.

Pearce is raising awareness about Childhood Cancer. At the age of ten she was diagnosed with Brain Cancer that spread to her spine. Since completing treatment, Pearce and her family formed the Pearce Q. Foundation. Inc 501(c)3 non profit. Pearce has three goals: 1) to raise awareness, 2) to financially help families whose children are still in the fight and 3)to offer grants to reasearchers.

Pearce just presented doctore with a $12,000 check towards research. Through fundraising she has raised over $30,000 in 2010 with a goal to double that in 2011.

Every penny raised goes directly back to the Childhood cancer community. Pearce has visited the President at the White House, has been featured on Stand Up 2 Cancer in 2008 and 2010.

In April 2005, when Emily Tieu was just 7 years old she came across a boy named Tyler who suffered from an extremely rare and fatal enzyme disorder called Sialidosis. She learned that Tyler’s mom and dad were hosting their 4th annual charity garage sale to raise money to fund the research department at McMaster University to combat this disease. When Emily realized that this family was the only one funding the research due to the fact that Tyler is the only child in Canada suffering with this disease she quickly sprang into action by starting her own garage sale. She went around the house gathering toys she didn’t need anymore and explained to everyone who came that she was donating all the proceeds to McMaster University.

She raised $91 and phoned Tyler’s family herself to tell them the news. A few hours later she was at their door and meeting Tyler’s family for the first time. A very grateful Tyler came out to thank Emily sincerely and she told him that this would become an annual event and that she would see him again next year.

We are proud to nominate our four “heroes” – Zach Cohen, Katie Gladsone, Derek Medolla, and Julie Piskin – four exceptional young people who formed a unique fundraising club to help the children of Sunrise Day Camp.

An avid athlete, Zach plays striker for the Jericho High School Varsity Soccer team and U16 Division 1 Long Island Junior Soccer.

Katie plays first singles for the Jericho Junior Varsity Tennis team, is on the Varsity track team as well as the bowling team.

Derek enjoys playing soccer as a midfielder with the Jericho High School Varsity Soccer team and U16 Division 1 Long Island Junior Soccer.

Julie’s varied extra curricular High School activities include Varsity Tennis, Model Congress Club, The Latin Honor Society, French Honor Society and Yearbook.

I would love to share a little about my 7 year old daughter Maggie. She is a little girl with big dreams. Maggie invented a necklace line out of recycled tights and pantie hose. She takes donations from friends and family for their tights, pantie hose and old jewelry and turns them into great little necklaces that she sells in several stores in 5 states. A large tight company, We Love Colors Inc, also donates their seconds for Maggie to make her FUN necklaces.

Twice Loved by Maggie B came about from a love of jewelry and a need to help the planet. Maggie is creating functional affordable jewelry that anyone can feel good about wearing. She and her friends are sporting the next level of eco-friendly fashion. Maggie has also donated her necklaces to help raise money for the Humane Society of Moore County, Orange County Childrens Hospital, Open Door Home as well as many others.

This energetic second grader is ready to take her dreams to the next level and make Twice Loved by Maggie B a house hold name.

Lulu Cerone’s simple fund raisers were always a part of her life. Coat drives, bake sales and lemonade stands were her specialty. After the earthquake in Haiti, she wanted to find a way to motivate as many kids as possible to help. So, she started a Girls vs. Boys Lemonade WAR in her fifth grade class at school. Two weeks later, the contest had spread across the country, and as far away as Canada where kids began holding lemonade stands for the boys team or the girls team. By the end of three weeks, she had raised $4000.00.

This year, she started LemonAID in hopes of gathering kids from all over for a Nation-Wide Lemonade Stand on Memorial Day, where armies of LemonAid warriors across the country will work together for their special projects. Along with her continuing efforts for Haiti, Lulu is teaming up with Blood:Water Mission to save lives by getting clean drinking water to African villages.

Andi Kezh was born with a cleft lip and palate. She has had nine surgeries and is about to undergo her tenth surgery. Back in April, she saw in a magazine a picture of a young child with an unrepaired cleft lip and palate. The ad said, “Give a child with a cleft lip a second chance at life.” It was an ad for Smile Train. She tore the page out and hung it on her bedroom wall, then asked how we could help.

After a number of ideas were tossed around, we agreed that she could have a Tribute Page on Smile Train and a Facebook page to spread awareness about her goal. Her initial goal was one surgery, and she raised that in about two hours. To date, almost eight months later, Andi has raised awareness and has raised enough funds for 32 poverty-stricken children around the world to have surgery through the Smile Train organization. She is tireless in her efforts to raise money because she wants ALL cleft-affected kids to have the opportunity to go to school, to play soccer, or whatever they want to do.

In many third world countries, children with cleft lip/cleft palate are thought to be cursed and are abandoned, hidden away, or their entire family is asked to move. Andi is absolutely changing the lives of these children and their families.

Morgan has been raising donations for the Second Chance Animal Shelter. For the past two years he has reached out to his local church community and school community for support. People have donated money, dog and cat food, animal toys and clothes.

He also donates his times and efforts at a local pet store in town. Morgan works several hours every Saturday at Knapps Pets and Hobbies, he helps the owner’s clean the animal cages and offers customer assistance.

At school he is involved in a local program called High Five for Benn El Live, it is a daily show that informs the community about what is happening at school.

To all the kids I’ve mentioned in this blog post and the millions that I haven’t please know that I am SO proud of you 🙂


2 responses to “Day 166

  1. Jackson Presnell

    I just love inspirational stories like these! I am a supporter of Smile Train and it is so wonderful to see others that realize the importance of this type of work. Smile Train Is All About Outcomes because it is true that it is such an expensive surgery and most families cannot afford it. Always great to see success stories! Keep up the good work!

    • I am so glad you’re working with Smile Train because I believe that you haven’t lived until you’ve given from your heart.

      Yours truly,

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