It’s a powerful message proven by 13-year-old Alex Azzolino. Alex is the founder of Kids Kount!, a charitable foundation created to help kids with serious illnesses.
“It’s all about kids helping kids,” says Alex, who has led the effort with the empowering spirit that kids can raise funds and support causes without the help of adults. The idea for Kids Kount! stemmed from a read-a-thon fundraiser Alex was involved in with a church group to raise money for a local hospital. “I love to read,” Alex explains. “And after participating in that fundraiser I started thinking about ways I could help.”
Alex started her own read-a-thon and decided that proceeds would go to help sick children. “There are so many diseases that affect a lot of people,” says Alex. “And any one of my peers and friends could have or develop these diseases.” She researched different organizations to determine which ones to support.
Alex, who lives in Acton, Mass., has raised funds for organizations, including the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and was interested in Joslin and its mission after finding information about it online. “I had heard a lot about Joslin and its great research program, and my grandmother and my aunt had diabetes. When I learned that two friends of my younger brother also had it, I Iearned that it attacked children as well, so I thought it was worthwhile,” Alex says. “And Joslin is local.” In late 2003, Alex and her father, Frank, visited Joslin for the first time and presented a check for $3,000 to Lori Laffel, M.D., M.P.H., Chief of Pediatric and Adolescent Diabetes.
This past year Alex had 40 participants in the Kids Kount! Read-a-thon, most of them junior high school and elementary school students, some even kindergartners. And Alex has launched other fundraisers including a Bowl-a-thon and a baseball and softball Hit-a-thon for kids who may not like reading but want to help.
In just the last two years, the number of participants and events has mushroomed. “I want to spread the message, but it takes a lot of work,” Alex explains. She has had an incredible education being exposed to these organizations and their missions. “I have talked with patients and scientists,” says Alex. “The amount of kids that have these diseases was a lot more than I knew.”
Alex’s ingenuity and compassion are an inspiration to Joslin. “I’m helping because I like it,” says Alex. At age 13, Alex Azzolino is Joslin’s youngest foundation philanthropist who has graciously demonstrated that kids do count.
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Page last updated: March 27, 2015