It was with such great pride that Momee Friends was able to give special recognition to all of the children we recognized last year as our very first recipients of the Shining Child of the Month Award. Our Inspiring Child ceremony at the LATCP Playground even brought out County Executive Ed Mangano, who praised the amazing work that these young ones do. Each one of them have a special mission and are making such a big impact in our communities. In the days following our event, we were so pleased to see that the kids are even inspiring and supporting each other in their respective missions by helping to spread the word of each other’s goals.
This month, we would like to recognize and award 10-year-old, Keith Passanante of Lindenhurst as our Shining Child of the Month – another perfect example of kids helping kids.
Thinking about what inspiration meant to him, Keith said, “I think inspiration is something or someone that can change you by making you think about doing it… they don’t force you to do it, they just help you realize you want to do it.”
Keith was so inspired by a story he heard about Marina Duzak, a 16-year old student at Connetquot High School. Marina was diagnosed with leukemia and will be granted her wish through the Make A Wish Foundation. To show her gratitude and give back, Marina organized a Chinese Auction that raised $18,180! She has donated $8,000 to the Make A Wish foundation of Suffolk County, and $10,180 to the Winthrop Cancer Center for Kids, and she plans to continue raising funds so that other children who are ill can also have their wishes fulfilled.
Marina’s story really struck a chord within Keith and he began his own campaign. He now sees Marina as one of his heroes and wrote, “Marina was bullied after she lost her hair to leukemia. She did not give up, she did not listen to what the bullies said. She kept fighting and fighting – she needed to in order to push forward.” Her strong will to survive and help others inspired him to start collecting bottles to raise money for the same organizations that Marina helped. In just one month, he has raised over $180 and has reached out to others within the community to help with more donations.
Keith is a remarkable kid with such a big heart and continues to be an inspiration to others. In addition to his fundraising efforts, he has also been recognized at his school for also raising awareness for Autism, explaining to other kids what it is like to have an older brother who is living with autism. Urging his classmates and the community to Light it up Blue in April, he said, “Awareness means Acceptance, which is what I want for my brother Richie and everyone in the world with Autism.”
Keith, congratulations and THANK YOU for being a champion for others like Marina and your brother Richie! You are a SHINING example of what it means to pay it forward! You truly are an INSPIRATION!
If anyone is interested in rallying behind Keith and is interested in donating to his cause, please email firstname.lastname@example.org