phi·lan·thro·py n. generous help or
benevolence toward one's fellow human beings.
Kalee Goltscher is a
philanthropist. When I conjure up a picture in my head of a philanthropist I think of
someone very wealthy and very old. Someone who almost surely made their vast fortune at
the expense of the very people they're so generously giving it back to. She's not old and
she's not particularly wealthy, at least in a material sense. But what she does have -
compassion, time, and energy - she is giving in abundance.
The American Lung Association
of Washington named Kalee its 1998 Child Philanthropist of the Year for her 9 years of
fundraising and volunteerism with that organization. And she's not 84 years old or even
54, but just 14 years old.
just want people to know we care," says Kalee Goltscher.
She began riding the
Tri-Island International Bike Trek on the back seat of a specially adapted tandem with her
father, Lee, when she was just 6 years old and beginning first grade. She hasn't missed a
year of riding, sometimes in the rain, this annual bicycle tour which begins in Seattle
and ends three days and 135 miles later in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada...and this
year she is beginning her freshman year at Mukilteo's Kamiak High School.
She's riding on a bicycle of
her own now but she's not content to simply solicit donations and ride. The renamed Trek
Tri-Island is held three times each year on three successive weekends in September. She
rode the entire135 miles the first weekend, took the second weekend off, and is working as
a Support Staff Volunteer along side her mother, Kathy, for three days the third.
"I saw my mom
volunteering for a lot of years and I always wanted to be old enough to be on the Support
Team. Now I'm finally old enough and I'm really looking forward to it," Kalee says.
The tragic school shooting at
Columbine High School last spring shook Kalee up. "It could just as easily been at
our school," she explains. "I wanted to let kids (at Columbine) know that we
really cared about what was going on." Kalee talked to her school principal. Then she
talked with and organized a few friends. Within a day the school announcements and word of
mouth quickly alerted the entire student body to a large 3-by-25-foot banner being laid
out on the school's cafeteria room stage. Over the next five days most if not all of the
school's 800 students wrote their wishes and thoughts on the banner which Kalee's mother
sent to the Littleton, Colorado high school.
Children's Hospital is another
recipient of Kalee Goltscher's philanthropy. She volunteers an average of 6 hours per
weekend there helping young patients in various ways as well as delivering items around
the sprawling Seattle complex. For the last several years she has spent Christmas morning
at Children's volunteering with Santa Claus. Kalee passes out gifts and helps those
children unfortunate enough to be in the hospital on Christmas to open their gifts and
have the best morning possible.
"Kalee Goltscher needs
your HELP!!!!," read bright yellow flyers that circulated through her school, sports
team, and neighborhood. "I am organizing a project to feed the homeless at the
Bethany Shelter in Everett. If you would like to help with food preparation and
serving...please call me and let me know if u (sic) can help." Her phone number
follows and so do a number of young friends, right to the Bethany Shelter. Kalee says,
"We wanted to provide a kind of meal that homeless people may not get very often, so
we made ham, chicken, mashed potatoes, stuff like that. Not "sandwiches".
Kalee and her dad, Lee, check out
the route they'll be biking from Seattle to Victoria, B.C. for the American Lung
As I listen to this remarkable
young woman I am not only impressed with her commitment and can-do attitude, I am reminded
how many truly incredible young people surround us day in and day out. While the
newspapers and the nightly news commonly focus on the tragic lives and negative influence
that some youth bring to our world, I am excited and proud of Kalee Goltscher and others
like her that are shining examples of true philanthropy. Kalee,Be a really good driver,
Mark Reiman is co-founder and editor-in-chief of
Incredible People Magazine. You can e-mail him at Mark@IncrediblePeople.com