Thirteen teens participated in the American Heart Association’s first Teen of Impact campaign in upstate New York, forming teams to support the mission of the American Heart Association. The teens and their teams accrued points for conducting heart-healthy activities, educating their communities about the work of the American Heart Association, and fundraising to fight heart disease and stroke.
Shay Kerwin, a rising senior at Tamarac High School, was the first-place winner in Upstate New York, with 31,843 points, and a fundraising total of $23,453.00. When the campaign ended on June 14, Shay was the No. 2 Teen of Impact in the nation.
Shay will receive a $1,000 scholarship.
When Shay was just 7 years old, his father died suddenly of a heart attack. He has been a regular volunteer for the organization since then.
“We found the AHA after my father died, and I was excited to help others,” Shay said. Shay and his family and friends have been at every Capital Region Heart Walk since then. He has also worn the mascot costume, Ticker, at Heart Association events, helps at events for the Cardiac Kids – children born with heart defects – and was a top fundraiser for the Heart Association’s Jump Rope for Heart program (now called Kids Heart Challenge), when he was a student at Gardner Dickinson Elementary School. Shay also shared his story at a Capital Region Heart Ball.
Shay and his team put their fundraising skills into high gear for the Teen of Impact campaign which ran from April 19 to June 14, holding plant sales, bottle drives, and hosting a “dine to donate” event. Shay also handed out information from the Heart Association at the Troy Farmers Market, shared videos about heart health and CPR training, and combined health and fundraising by offering a yoga class.
“I’ve been working with the AHA for a long time now, and I was honored and excited to be nominated for this campaign,” Shay said. “It’s really awesome to win. My team and I put a lot of effort into it, and I’m grateful to everyone who helped. I was really lucky to have such a great team, made up of family, family friends, and even the deacon at my church.”
As for being the No. 2 teen nationwide?
“That’s really cool,” Shay said.
In his free time, Shay plays basketball, watches movies and hangs out with friends.
And he remains a strong proponent for volunteering with the American Heart Association.
“It’s really awesome to see how many people you are helping,” Shay said of his work with the American Heart Association. “It’s great knowing that the money you raise helps them.”
“We all congratulate Shay, who raised an extraordinary amount of money for the American Heart Association and will receive the $1,000 scholarship,” said Liz Campbell, Senior Vice President, New York State and Pennsylvania for the American Heart Association. “Shay’s longtime volunteer work with us really honors his father’s memory. The work that Shay has done will let us continue investing in the research and education that will help prevent other families from suffering the loss that Shay did. I also want to thank all 13 Teens of Impact, who did a tremendous job in this inaugural year. The future is bright because of this group of dedicated young women and men.”