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Youth Volunteer of the Year - Katie Sesi
Katie Sesi has demonstrated an extreme dedication to helping youth. Starting in just third grade, after hearing how children with cancer spend holidays, Katie began her first volunteer effort, Kanz for Kids, collecting refundable cans to raise money to donate. She has also since channeled her musical talents and raised funds for worthy causes. Katie raised and donated $40,000 to The University of Michigan Mott Children’s Hospital and the Chad Tough Foundation for cancer research. Her first $10,000 donation helped build a playground in the children’s hospital, called “The Treehouse.” She has also shared her passion of music by creating the Young Musicians Mentors Alliance (YMMA), addressing the unique problem of music education retention. Katie was alarmed to discover that half of students quit during the process of learning an instrument in the first two years. To ensure that younger students were able to experience the long-term cognitive effects of playing an instrument, Katie created this mentoring program by recruiting 23 high school orchestra members to help serve middle school orchestra students. After just one year, Katie’s efforts helped double YMMA’s size to 230 participants. She has also a dedicated member of the Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan and helped her community combat homelessness and hunger. Katie has served more than 2,540 hours. “She is an inspiration to others and has a level of dedication uncommon to people her age,” said Dr. Valerie Opipari, chair of the Department of Pediatrics at The University of Michigan.