Ryan Patrick, 14, is no stranger to fundraising. He and his friends have been working together to raise over $50,000 to support grieving families and those in need. In the exclusive interview below, Ryan tells us all about his volunteer work, his inspirations, and the advice he has for other teens trying to get involved.
Can you briefly describe the work that you¹ve done and the success you¹ve achieved so far?
I’m from Newtown, CT, where the Sandy Hook Elementary School is. After the tragedy at the school in 2012, I felt a need to help the families affected, so I designed wristbands to sell in order to support them. I was able to raise $23,000 and decided to give the money to Healing Hearts Center For Grieving Children and Families.
How did you choose to give the money to Healing Hearts Center for Grieving Children and Families?
I raised the original $23,000 because I wanted to help families through their grief. To reach the people we wanted to help, we needed to find an organization that could use the money responsibly. When we found the Healing Hearts Center, it was a no-brainer that this was the perfect cause to give the money to. They were offering long-term grief support to friends and families of the victims by forming new groups for the victims’ families, so we knew we were putting the money in the right place. The people there were so kind and it was obvious that they wanted to help the families just as much as I did through their grief support program.
What are you working on now?
Shortly after that donation, the Regional Hospice of Western CT, which runs Healing Hearts, challenged me to raise $50,000 in order to fund the building of the playground at their new building. I knew this would not be easy so I asked for the help of my six friends, and together we created the Kids In Deed Organization (KIDO). So far we have raised $47,000 and will shortly reach our goal within the next few months. We are all extremely happy to know that we can support our town and many others by building this playground. We all feel that what we have achieved so far should not be measured by the amount of money we raise but by the amount of happiness we give to others, and to ourselves.
How does KIDO raise money?
So far we have done many fundraisers such as selling Halloween tote bags, KIDO t-shirts on Booster.com, selling candy and ornaments at the holidays, selling snacks at a soccer tournament, gift wrapping at a book store, held an exhibition baseball game, received a $5000 New England Patriots grant through the Myra Kraft Foundation, held percent-back days at local businesses, and asked for donations from local corporations and friends and family.
Have your friends helped you through your process of raising money? How?
My friends make up KIDO and it would be nothing without them. They all contribute equally to KIDO’s success and they all have the same passion to help. I know that I would not be anywhere without them!
Have you always been interested in volunteering? How did you first begin to get involved?
Throughout my life my parents have always encouraged me and my siblings to help those less fortunate. This really stuck with me my whole life, and I have always liked to volunteer with my family at events, and help them figure out what charity to donate to next, but I have never really done anything by myself. The day of the tragedy I felt like I was obliged to help my town. I just kept thinking about what the families had to go through, and that thought drove me to help.
What would you tell a friend who had an idea for a volunteer project, but didn’t know how to start?
I would tell other teens that anyone can help, and it’s always rewarding if you’re having fun and putting smiles on peoples faces. Every dollar counts, and kids should know that with determination, you can do anything. If you have an idea for a project but don’t know what to do next, it’s okay to ask for help—there will always be someone to lend you a hand.
Did you know there’s a health and well-being magazine for teens? Subscribe to Choices, and check out our Inspired Like You series, featuring teens like Grace, who is helping provide eyeglasses to teens in need, and Julien, who is raising money for charity, just $2 at a time.