On March 14, USA Today announced the winner of its Kindness Challenge -- 13-year-old Kylie Kuhns.
The Kindness Challenge began on Martin Luther King Day, 2011. Partnered with the "Rachael Ray Show" and DoSomething.org, the competition dared five young philanthropists to meet specific, service-oriented milestones in six weeks. The contestants posted weekly updates, and viewers were encouraged to vote for their favorite story.
Kuhns set the goal of raising $17,250 to distribute toys in Florida's pediatric oncology units.
She chose to raise funds for Chemo Ducks. Created by nonprofit Gabe's My Heart, the stuffed animal ducks help children overcome hospital and treatment anxiety. Doctors can use Chemo Ducks to visibly explain medical procedures, helping children understand what they will soon experience.
With the support of her community, she surpassed her goal and raised $25,000 for her cause. She told the Standard-Journal that she couldn't have done it without her team.
"Winning the Kindness Challenge is great, but like I said on the show, it really wasn't just about winning. It was so great to see the community's efforts in helping me reach my goal. Everyone worked together. I couldn't have done it without them."
Kuhns' sister, Kelsey, died of leukemia in 2005. After watching her sister go through chemotherapy and convalescence, Kuhns decided to make take action. She started a foundation in her honor, Kelsey's Dream, to "make life brighter" for children in need.
She told USA Today about her inspiration:
"I'm pretty sure my sister would be very proud. When she was alive, she had a sign hanging in her room with the phrase 'Failure is not an option.' That kind of kept me going during the challenge. I didn't have an option to fail, and had to meet the goal."
Rachael Ray announced Kuhns as the winner on her show. Ray commended Kuhns' initiative, saying:
"I think that it's just so meaningful for your community and especially for your family to see your sister literally living on and helping other kids that are struggling with their chemo -- it's so beautiful. Hat's off to you."
To donate or find out more about Kelsey's Dream, follow the Impact links below: