Nominated by her friend Jennifer Fortney,36,Chicago
Why Kendall is amazing:
Kendall Ciesemier was born with a rare liver disease,but when she was 11 years old and had to undergo two liver transplants in one summer,she asked her friends and acquaintances not to send her cards or flowers but to donate money to World Vision,a charity that sponsors children living in extreme poverty around the world.More than $15,000 came pouring in,which motivated Kendall in 2004 to start the nonprofit Kids Caring 4 Kids (KC4K) so that children and teens all over the country could raise money for their peers in Africa.Big names like Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey took notice,and she started receiving donations from coast to coast.Soon afterward,Kendall created the "i care 2" kit,which is an interactive,step-by-step guide for anyone,including kids,to plan a successful fundraiser.To date,hundreds of fundraisers have been held to benefit KC4K,raising about $830,000,and the money has been put to good use.KC4K currently funds a dormitory for orphans in Kenya and sponsors weekly meals for more than 600 orphans,widows and AIDS patients in Zambia,among other projects.Kendall does all of this while she continues to fight her own health battles (she is still required to visit the hospital every six weeks).Despite this,she recently traveled to Zambia and South Africa—a lifelong dream of hers—to see the benefits of her hard work.Her future goals for KC4K are to reach the $1 million mark and get 30 high schools to each pledge $5,000 to the organization.
In her own words:"I mean,how many teddy bears do you really need?It would have been such a waste." —on the idea of receiving presents while she was in the hospital