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"As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others." (Hepburn) Kendall Ciesemier was born in Wheaton, Illinois and is currently a student at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. Kendall is a hero because she helps others from the good of her heart, influences others to make positive changes in their lives, and has overcome many of her own setbacks.
"She fought for her life, now she fights for theirs." Kendall was born with a rare liver condition that she has battled her whole life, so she understood human struggle at a young age. When she was 11, she had two liver transplants. Kendall says, "I like to turn my own pain into a way to help others." She remembers how she felt when she was going through her surgeries and used that memory to make a positive change, not for herself but for others.
The images on the television screen shook my 5th grade reality. As I sat watching an Oprah Winfrey Show highlighting the plight of African AIDS orphans, I began to imagine myself, 11-year-old Kendall Ciesemier, alone, living in a mud hut, caring for my younger siblings and grieving the death of my parents. Having experienced struggle in my own life, their pain resonated" (Ciesemer). Ciesemier is the founder of the foundation, kids caring 4 kids, an organization created to help support kids in Africa. She got the idea for the organization after watching an episode of Oprah about the Aids epidemic in Africa back in 2004. Since the founding of KC4K, it has grown to support eight projects in four countries in Africa, helping better the lives of nearly 7,000 Africans, by inspiring over 7,000 kids to raise nearly one million dollars. They used this money to build community centers, provide indoor plumbing at schools, distribute bikes, drill boreholes (underground water sources), feed widows and AIDS patients, and support students through school. I think Kendall really wanted to help because she saw the nurses take care of her when she was sick. She was able to understand how appreciative kids are of any help they can get. Kendall has helped in other ways as well. "I felt that, no matter what we do, it'll be interesting for kids to come here annually for their check up, but really it's for the kids and their family who live here, to give them moments of peace and calm" (Bair). In addition to Kids Caring 4 Kids, she has been a big part of the development of the new Children's Hospital of Chicago. As a life-long patient, Kendall helps the planning and designing boards, discussing the exterior of the building, community partnerships and creative features, offering the "kid perspective."
Kendall influences others to make positive changes in their lives. "My perfect day would consist of speaking in front of a large group of people, inspiring them to care and believe that they can make a difference. No lie. It is my favorite thing to do" (Meet Kendall).Kendall explains that everyone should be the best version of themselves. No matter who you are, or how old you are, you can make a change. Ceisemier enjoys public speaking and is a spokes person for Glamour Magazine. "Glamour means having the confidence to be you and be different. It means that you are willing to risk having everyone's favor in order to pursue your dreams and in order to change the world"(Sprunk). Having total confidence in yourself allows you to forget about what other people think and do what you love to do. According to Sprunk, Glamour means being confident enough to be different, this comes from a person's self-esteem and willingness to leave others thoughts behind.
Kendall also has her own setbacks, which she refuses to let hold her back. "At only eight weeks of age, I was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia, a rare liver disease that plagued my life with illness, surgery and uncertainty" (Whitfeild). When she was just eight weeks old, doctors diagnosed Kendall with a rare liver disease called Billiary Atresia that has challenged her ever since. When she was eleven, her father donated half of his liver to save her life. Due to an aneurism, she required a second liver transplant only five weeks later. Kendall's childhood was filled with doctor appointments, therapy and low muscle strength that didn't allow her to play monkey bars on the playground with her friends. "My experiences have taught me a lot about human suffering and I have learned first-hand the concept of empathy" (Moody). Kendall takes her own memories and pain from her experiences, and uses it as motivation to help others. Most teenagers would use that as an excuse on why they can't, but she uses it as a reason why. Just another way she stands out.
Kendall is a hero because she is charitable, is a positive influence on others, and doesn't let life's difficulties hold her back. She is a hero in my eyes for everything she has done, and everything she continues to do for others. She looks forward to continuing to make a positive impact as she studies sociology or journalism in college, to pursue a career in broadcast journalism. Kendall has been honored as Glamour Magazine's Woman of the Year Reader's Choice Winner, Chicago Magazine's Chicagoan of the Year, a Prudential Top Ten Youth Volunteer, a Build-A-Bear Workshop Huggable Hero, a Discover Financial Top Scholar, a Nordstrom Scholar, a Gloria Barron Young Hero, and most recently a Google Zeitgeist Young Mind. One day, I hope to be a little bit more like her.
"Meet Kendall | Kids Caring 4 Kids." Meet Kendall | Kids Caring 4 Kids. Kids Caring 4 Kids, 2008. Web. 21 May 2012. .
Hepburn, Audrey. BrainyQuote. Xplore, 2001. Web. 17 May 2012. .
Sprunk, Cara. "Glamour's 20 Amazing Young Women: Kendall Ciesemier, Founder of Kids Caring For Kids (KC4K)." Her Campus. Glamour, 22 Nov. 2010. Web. 17 May 2012. .
"Turning My Own Pain into a Way to Help Others." 5 Apr. 2012. Web. 23 May 2012.
Ciesemier, Kendall. "Maria Shriver." Kendall Ciesemier, Founder of Kids Caring 4 Kids. 9 Nov. 2011. Web. 24 May 2012. .
Bair, Dina. "Crown Sky Garden Grows at New Children's Hospital." WGN. WGN News. Web. 24 May 2012. .
Whitfeild, Kate. "Meet Fearless Girl Kendall Ciesemier! ~ FearlesslyGIRL - Your Daily Dose of Fearless!" Meet Fearless Girl Kendall Ciesemier! ~ FearlesslyGIRL - Your Daily Dose of Fearless! 19 Jan. 2012. Web. 25 May 2012. .
Moody, Colleen. "5 Questions." Web
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