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Volume V Issue XXXVII

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Seattle Washington USA

 

"I WANT TO LET PEOPLE KNOW WE CARE"
by MARKREIMAN

 

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.

picture2" I 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".

picture2Kalee and her dad, Lee, check out the route they'll be biking from Seattle to Victoria, B.C. for the American Lung Association.

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, too...okay?

 

mark.gif (4144 bytes)Mark Reiman is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Incredible People Magazine.  You can e-mail him at Mark@IncrediblePeople.com

 

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