Disability Rights Fund’s Youngest Donor

As the Director of Development for the Disability Rights Fund, I spend most of my time talking with foundations, bilaterals, and companies—all adults.

Adults are great, but so are kids! (And, kids are more fun!) This week, I caught up with our youngest donor, Sebastian, age 12, who did a fundraising campaign for DRF for his recent birthday. Here’s what he shared:

Q: Most kids like to receive presents on their birthday. Why did you decide to ask for donations instead?

A: It all started a couple years ago when I was turning 10. I wanted to do something special since I was turning double digits! I decided it would be a good idea to not get presents and instead donate somewhere. I like knowing that I’m helping people. I’ve done it every year for my birthday since.

Q: Unfortunately, the experiences of people with disabilities are often overlooked. But not by you! Do you have any personal experiences with disability?

A: Yes. My cousin Jackson has cerebral palsy. Everyone loves him; he’s a great kid. He’s even an ambassador for Easter Seals. I also went to Senegal for a fencing tournament. I didn’t get to fence because I broke my back, but while we were there, we went to visit a school for kids with disabilities. It made me really sad because there were great kids who were in a school that clearly had no funding. And then I learned that after 6th grade there, there weren’t really ways for kids with disabilities to learn in a school. Everyone should be able to go to school!  

Q: At DRF, we want to see a world where people with disabilities can fully participate in society and enjoy equal rights and opportunities as others. Why does this matter to you?

A: When Jackson was born, I remember a lot of doctors were talking about how hard a life he would have. They were wrong. He’s done things that people didn’t think were possible. If you take away people’s rights and opportunities, you’ll probably miss something. You’ll miss out on brilliant and fun people. People with disabilities are just like everyone else, but have something different that other people don’t always take time to understand. But they should because even if you’re disabled, you’re a person with ideas and talents just like everyone else. I also just like that DRF is helping people. I like that you are doing something to make the world better.

Q: You might have a career ahead of you in fundraising! Through your campaign, we raised $1,965 to support our work.  Do you have any tips for other kids who want to fundraise for their birthdays?

A: Do your best. It doesn’t matter how much you raise; everything helps. Tactically, send people an email with clear directions for how to donate and include something personal. I made a video. Also, if you’re going to ask other people to donate, you should donate yourself; it’s the right thing to do and it feels good.

Q: Anything else that you want to share?

A: Be kind to each other. Especially during these times, people are having trouble. My friends and I have felt depressed without being able to be close to each other; it’s hard for everyone. I shouldn’t have to say this, but it’s really easy to be kind. It should just be a rule—it should just be what we do. 

Thank you Sebastian for your wisdom and for the time you put into this fundraising campaign! We appreciate you!

Whether you’re turning 12 or 62, if you would like to do a birthday fundraiser for Disability Rights Fund, please email me! I’d love to work with you.

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