Meet the Teen Helping Sick Kids Feel Better One Smile at a Time (Forward)
This piece is part of a series of perspectives from Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award Recipients on their experiences in philanthropic work.
I’ve always wanted to do something to help others. Whether it was when I was in Girl Scouts, clubs to help the community, or running a lemonade stand, I did them all for the same goal – to put a smile on someone’s face and ensure that they were happy and healthy. Three years ago, when I turned 11, I realized I could do all of this and more for sick kids and their families in times of great need by creating “Kayla Cares 4 Kids” – a non-profit organization that collects and donates books, DVDs, video games, and really almost anything that can entertain and educate a child while they are bored in a children’s hospital or Ronald McDonald House. I started my organization in 2013, after a two-week long hospital stay of my own. I have Juvenile Arthritis, Crohn’s Disease, and Eosinophilic Colitis. My youngest brother, Ethan, has Eosinophilic Esophagitis and Juvenile Arthritis as well. (That’s a lot of “-itis!”) After my extended hospital stay, I realized how boring sitting in a hospital bed could be and gave two DVDs to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, where my brother and I often go. Thanks to the Young Entrepreneurs Academy and the Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce, my simple idea was lifted off the ground into a well functioning non-profit. That was the very beginning of donating more than 11,000 items to nearly 100 medical facilities in all 50 states.
I want to thank the Helen Diller Family Foundation and the 2016 Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards for seeing and believing in my organization and allowing me to take it to the next level! The money the foundation has awarded me will be directed towards furthering my organization. Some of the money will cover shipping costs, which is one of the major expenses of KC4K. My goal is to donate items to all 250 children’s hospitals and 181 Ronald McDonald Houses nationwide, and with that comes a lot of boxes to ship out. I also would like to dedicate some of the money towards furthering my education in college. By continuing my education, I can learn how to be a better entrepreneur, and re-apply it back into my organization.
Kayla Cares 4 Kids is important to me because I enjoy the opportunity to give back to places that helped me so much in my time of need, as well as to others. My organization really allows other people to be aware of how important helping the community and the country as a whole truly is. My organization works hard to put a smile on children’s faces. I hope that what I am doing will inspire others to find a passion to help make the world a better place, just like Kayla Cares 4 Kids does to “help sick kids feel better one smile at a time!” Visit kaylacares4kids.org to learn how you can do your part.
More about Kayla: Kayla Abramowitz knew from a young age what it was like to spend countless hours in hospitals after being diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, Juvenile Arthritis and Eosinophilic Colitis. During a particularly difficult two-week hospital stay, she discovered the lack of recreational activities in place to offset the frustration, pain and boredom hospital patients with chronic illnesses often experience. This inspired Kayla to launch Kayla Cares 4 Kids, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that collects and donates entertainment and educational items to children’s hospitals and Ronald McDonald Houses nationwide. With many medical facilities relying on donations of books and movies for their patients and families, children have limited access to age-appropriate material during their stays. Through Kayla’s efforts, Kayla Cares 4 Kids helped raise the spirit of young patients by identifying what they need to stay engaged and motivated during their recovery process. For her passion for transforming patients’ lives, Kayla was named one of 10 Prudential Spirit of Community Award winners nationwide; the 2016 National Christopher Reeve Service Award winner; and the”2015 National Young Entrepreneur of the Year” by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Young Entrepreneurs Academy. With the help of 13 ambassadors in 11 states, collection boxes and social media campaign, Kayla Cares 4 Kids has donated more than 11,000 items to approximately 100 facilities in all 50 states.