Monday, April 20, 2009
What do you want to be when you grow up?
What’s your favorite food? Steak
What is your weird talent? I’m double-jointed in all joints.
Who inspires you and why?
Emily, a little girl who became her friend before she died at age 6 from leukemia. "She showed me so much strength," Abigail said. Emily was a beneficiary of Horan Carnival in 2002.
At an age when most of her peers were arranging toys for play time, Abigail Horan organized her first charitable effort in her backyard. She held the first Horan Carnival when she was 5 and donated its $20 in proceeds to a paralyzed teenager in her neighborhood.
Now 16, Horan is even more zealous about philanthropy. Her last and final carnival, held in 2007, raised more than $5,500 to fight pediatric cancer and leukemia. She has also spawned three more charities since her first backyard effort. When she was only 10, she founded Double T, an organization that collects hygiene products for disadvantaged children and adults in need.
"I got the idea from a TV show," Horan says. The image of a young girl who couldn’t afford a toothbrush stuck with her, and she began to write to local dentists for donations. She had some difficulty persuading wary adults and corporations to support her cause but didn’t give up. Since its founding, Double T has supplied 2,535 small hygiene kits that include various items like soap, shampoo, floss and, of course, toothbrushes to the needy in her community and abroad. "My motto is accomplish today the goals you set for tomorrow," Horan says about starting charity work so young.
Horan’s mother, Jill, has grown to be in awe of her daughter’s determination to serve those in need in her community. "She is 100 percent self-motivated," Jill says. "She knows what she wants and when she says she’s going to do it, she’s going to do it."
Catch the Reading Bug Program, a book drive for needy children in her hometown of Arlington Heights, is Horan’s biggest philanthropic effort to date. "You wouldn’t even believe that there are so many kids in poverty living this close," Horan says. These children won’t be overlooked on her watch.
Horan is now president of her sophomore class at Rolling Meadows High School and works hard to encourage her peers to participate in charitable service. Although she has scaled back her charity work because of time constraints, she has increased efforts to motivate her peers to be proactive. "It’s so much more than just saying you want to do something," Horan says. "There are people in need, right now, that you can help today."