National YEA Winner Visits Area (Fargo Chamber of Commerce)
The Chamber is thrilled and honored to have hosted the national winner of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA) in our area recently. On July 8, Kayla Abramowitz and her mom Andrea had a full day’s worth of activities and events around the FMWF region.
Kayla is just 13 years old and lives in Palm Beach Garden, Florida. She created Kayla Cares 4 Kids two years ago as a non-profit to collect and donate entertainment and educational materials, such as DVDs and video games, to hospitals around the country. She started it as a way to help other kids have more fun and be less bored during their hospital stays, which is something she has first-hand experience with herself. Her organization grew quickly, and even though it started in her home state, before long she had more items to donate than places to give them to in Florida, so she expanded. Kayla Cares 4 Kids has now donated in 45 states, but has a plan to soon be in all 50.
During her visit here, Kayla first spoke at 1 Million Cups, which was held at The Stage at Island Park in Fargo. She gave a presentation about her company and then had a Q&A with host Greg Tehven and audience members. The event was high-energy, fun and inspirational. It was Chamber Day and Kid’s Day at 1 Million Cups, and free coffee and juice boxes were served. To say Kayla wowed the crowd would be an understatement. In fact, she even earned a standing ovation – only the second ever one at that event!
Kayla spoke with the confidence, eagerness and the professionalism that many adults can only wish they had, and she engaged the crowd with her savvy business sense. Her words elicited much applause, including this quote about how she prepares for speaking in front of a big group of people: “A lot of people tell me to imagine people in their underwear and that does not work, so don’t do that. I just imagine everyone on my level, and that they’re all here to support me and not go against me. If I imagine everyone being here for me, then I am open to speaking about my organization because I love it and others will love it too.”
She then came back to The Chamber offices and got to spend time with our current local YEA students over lunch and share her experience with the program.
Kayla then met up with Chuck Armstrong, the chief legislative officer for Pawn America, who she previously met at the national YEA competition in Washington, D.C. Because of the relationship that formed from there, he now serves as ambassador for Kayla Cares 4 Kids in the four-state region here. He was instrumental in the second half of Kayla’s visit, as he collected and delivered all the items for the day’s donations.
Together, they delivered DVDs, video games and gaming systems to both Sanford Children’s Hospital (where Kayla even got to meet and spend some time with a current 4-year-old patient) and Ronald McDonald House in Fargo. During her donations, Kayla said that when she sees somebody light up because of a game or DVD, it makes her world go ‘round knowing that she helped make someone happy because of her organization.
After the day’s promotional events, Kayla got some down time to see the FMWF area and have some fun at Scheel’s and Sky Zone.
Kayla made the news in several different outlets and definitely helped to spread a lot of cheer and inspiration throughout our region. She repeated to us several times how great of an experience she was having here, and we thank everyone who helped make her visit possible. We are so happy she came and we wish both her organization, and Kayla herself lots of success in her very bright future.
Here’s a video message from Kayla to our community:
The Chamber’s YEA program is the first in the state and one of few in the region. YEA partners with Chambers across the country to help young entrepreneurs start their business from the ground up. Students in the program get to develop the skills necessary to launch their own real business or social movement and hear from local entrepreneurs to develop their ideas.
Our program is still accepting applications and will begin in September. If you know a great student in grades 6-12 or are interested in learning more, please contact Elly Peterson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 218.359.0512.
We also would love to hear from you if you are interested in becoming involved with YEA! as a guest speaker, field trip host or volunteer.
By Amanda Hofland