Kaitlyn Lee has been on the go for just about all of her 11 years. When she was 4 years old, she joined her mother for a Color Run 5K. Lee refused to sit in her stroller, running alongside her mother and sister for most of the race. She ran her first 10K at the age of 7; her aunt sent her $10 as a congratulations. Lee donated the $10 from running the race to the Jessie Rees Foundation. I wanted to give people who weren’t as fortunate as us or who weren’t as healthy as us something that we have in our everyday lives. My mom one day was showing me different charities that I could raise money for. I was like, yes, this is what I want to do. The group sends “Joy Jars” to children hospital-stricken during cancer treatment. Lee embraced the Foundation’s “Never Ever Give Up” message. In 2015, she was able to raise $1,000, which provided Joy Jars for 50 children. Within two years, the Alabama-based youth had raised $27,000 for the Foundation. In 2018, Lee wanted to raise the stakes for her “Running for Joy” project: If her total amount raised reached $50,000 by the end of the year, she would shave her head. When I thought about shaving my head, I was like, this would be really fun because then when I’m running, I could just go up to people and tell them why I shaved my head and what I do. Lee was ecstatic when her mother broke the news of her campaign’s success. “You met your $50,000 goal. You get to shave your head now.” “When are we going to do it? Soon!” When I reached $50,000, it was awesome because it was a feeling like I’d finally put my mark on the world, like I’d just finished something amazing. She plans on cutting her hair in early 2019. Along with her fundraising efforts, Lee visits children in the hospital. I’ve made many friends and I love being around them. Lee plans on adding to the list of the nearly 150 races she has finished. Even just crossing the finish line during a 5K, a lot of people can’t do that, so it’s really exciting to just cross that finish line and be like, ‘Yes, I did it!’ Lee has a simple message to any other kids her age who may want to help others. It might sound simple, but they can do like a lemonade stand. Every cent or dollar or anything that they have is just going towards helping kids not have cancer or helping someone to fight a disease that they’ve had for a very long time.
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