Can-do kid


Chicago Parent Staff


4 questions

What do you want to be when you grow up?
A pediatric heart surgeon.

What is your favorite food?
Salad, definitely.

What is your weird talent?
Making people laugh.

Who inspires you and why?
Bono of U2 inspires me because he’s doing a lot of fundraising for Africa and AIDS. I feel motivated that he’s putting everything aside and doing that. Fandl

On June 12, 1999, Harrison Fandl’s life changed—he got a little sister he wanted to name Treasure—and as a result he has been changing others’ lives. Born with a heart defect, Kali died eight months later, leaving the first-grader understanding that he’d lost his favorite playmate but also wondering, when asked, whether he had a sister or not.

By third grade, though, Harrison understood better the family’s loss. That year, when the gym teacher talked to the class about Jump Rope for Heart for the American Heart Association, he jumped in. "I really felt compelled I should do this because I wanted to fundraise in Kali’s legacy. I thought that since a lot of it goes to research, if we donated enough money for research we could save another family’s little girl," he says.

His goal: $300. His final tally: $3,000 from friends and family. Since then, the now-14-year-old Naperville boy, with his family’s help, has raised more than $40,000 for the American Heart Association.

"With grief, you can choose to go a lot of different ways," says Harrison, the son of John and Tracy Fandl. "You can just keep on living your life or you can do something proactive in their memory. I think that is what I’m doing."

Harrison says it’s not hard to convince people to help. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. So when he shares Kali’s story, he often hears one in return, he says.

In addition to his fundraising, Harrison serves on the Youth Advisory Board of the Alliance for a Healthy Generation, a collaboration between the Bill Clinton Foundation and American Heart Association. Once a month, youth from across the country teleconference on ways to encourage their peers to make healthy choices and live healthier lives.

"My son is amazing in the way he juggles all of the priorities in his world," his mom says. "I am very proud of his giving heart."

To help, whether making a donation or buying note cards that benefit the American Heart Association, visit the family’s page at


Do you know a great kid age 14 and under who’s done something amazing? E-mail names and information to [email protected].



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