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State Honoree

Kaitlyn Fitzgerald

Illinois

Kaitlyn Fitzgerald, 12, of Prospect Heights, Ill., a seventh-grader at MacArthur Middle School, organized a backyard carnival that raised more than $7,000 to cover medical expenses for a young girl with cerebral palsy. Kaitlyn, who babysits for the girl, Kiki, said she would do anything to help this child. “She is the most loving, smiling, sweet person you could ever meet,” said Kaitlyn. When Kaitlyn’s mom told her how she hosted a backyard carnival benefit as a teenager, Kaitlyn decided that would be a great idea to raise money for Kiki. So Kaitlyn recruited a group of friends to help. They designed and posted flyers, choreographed a show, made carnival games, designed a program, and sought donations for raffle prizes. After eight weeks of planning, the carnival was a huge success: more than 450 people attended, and the proceeds easily surpassed Kaitlyn’s goal. “Maybe from the money we raised, Kiki could be walking and talking in a few years,” said Kaitlyn.