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State Honoree

Kayla McCullough

Tennessee

Kayla McCullough, 12, of Gruetli-Laager, Tenn., a sixth-grader at Swiss Memorial Elementary School, collects food and toiletry items for the Ronald McDonald House where she and her family stayed during her infant brother’s illness. When Kayla’s brother, Brady, was being treated at a hospital 50 miles from their home, “the Ronald McDonald House provided us with a place to sleep, eat and rest,” she said. During their stay, Kayla realized that “if foods and toiletry items were donated, the people at Ronald McDonald House would have more money for other things.” When Brady died at 19 months old, Kayla decided to start a campaign. She got her school, church and local senior groups involved in collecting canned food, soaps, lotions and other toiletries for people staying at Ronald McDonald House. She also collected 26 gallons of soda can pop-tabs, which are helping to pay for children’s chemotherapy treatments. “I have learned that if I help others, I can learn to cope with the loss of my brother,” Kayla said.