A schoolwide commitment to kindness inspired two fifth graders from Birch Lane Elementary School in the Massapequa School District to start a fundraiser to help other children. Ryan Hirschhorn and Tyler Uberti partnered up to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to support kids undergoing cancer treatment.
Ryan and Tyler launched the Virtual Polar Plunge for a Cure, and through mid-March had raised 85% of their $5,000 goal. Throughout the winter, participants could submit a video doing their own polar plunge, from jumping into a nearby body of water, to taking an ice bath to diving into snow, then challenge three family members or friends to do the same. Videos could posted on social media with the hashtag #kfkpolarplunge, and all participants were asked to make a donation of any size to St. Jude.
The boys are hosting their fundraiser through the Kids for Kids Foundation, which raises money for organizations that support children and families struggling with medical challenges. A friend of Ryan’s dad works with the organization, which is how they found out about it. Ryan and Tyler are members of the Kids for Kids Junior Committee.
When doing research to select a charity, Ryan and Tyler learned about St. Jude and how it is funded entirely through donations, so families are not burdened with any medical costs. They noted that a $10 donation buys a meal for a St. Jude Family, while $500 can provide a platelet transfusion.
“We don’t want to think about ourselves,” Tyler said. “We want to think about the people who need the help.”
The boys say that the culture of kindness at Birch Lane helped spark their interest in helping others. Every day, students pass by the Random Acts of Kindness tree in the lobby. Ryan’s teacher, Jeanne Brustmeyer, gives each student an index card and punches a hole in it for demonstrating kindness and respect. In Tyler’s class, teacher Lauren Marocchi fills a kindness jar with the good deeds her students do.
The boys explained that kindness is important because that’s where charitable acts start. More information about their fundraiser can be found under Junior Events at www.kidsforkidsnyc.org.
“We want these kids at St. Jude to feel better and be treated as best as they can,” Ryan said. “That’s what this is all about.”
1: Birch Lane Elementary School Principal Stephen Aspetti commended fifth graders Ryan Hirschhorn, center, and Tyler Uberti for starting a fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, after being inspired by the culture of kindness at school.
2: Ryan Hirschhorn
3: Tyler Uberti
Photos courtesy of the Massapequa School District