Hollis Belger, 15, of Larkspur, California, a sophomore at Redwood High School, has raised more than $400,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital over the past six years through a multifaceted fundraising campaign that revolves around soccer-ball juggling. When Hollis was 8 years old, she started playing competitive soccer and discovered she was pretty good at juggling the ball with her feet. When she was able to juggle the ball 100 times in a row, her mother suggested she spend the summer juggling to raise money for a cause. “She told me about St. Jude and the compassionate and lifesaving care provided to patients and their families, all free of charge,” said Hollis.
Hollis started using her juggling to solicit pledges and donations from friends and family members, wrote blogs that her mother posted online, arranged media interviews, and told everyone she met about childhood cancer and St. Jude. She raised $35,000 that first summer. Six years later, Hollis is still raising money as well as awareness. She sends emails to donors, creates online newsletters, gives juggling clinics and private lessons, and attends St. Jude special events. She also works with corporate sponsors, sells customized soccer balls at soccer games, juggles at charity golf tournaments, and speaks to school groups around the country to inspire other young volunteers. One of her favorite activities is meeting young St. Jude patients and their families. “That always inspires me to keep going,” said Hollis. “Nothing is more important than saving the life of a child, and nothing is more rewarding than helping doctors do that.”