Jessica Kane, 17, an incoming senior at John F. Kennedy High School, was recently named the Greater NYC Teen of Impact by the American Heart Association. After raising more than $18,000 for women’s heart health in just eight weeks, Kane was awarded a $1,000 scholarship by the AHA.
The Teen of Impact initiative, created by the organization just this year, is a national competition in which nominees form an “impact team,” set goals and explore fundraising opportunities in their local communities, all in the interest of improving women’s heart health. Kane, who was nominated for founding Heart of Wellness, a club that promotes physical and emotional well being, took part in the initiative in the greater New York City area.
Kane, who lives in Bellmore, keeps busy with numerous extracurricular activities at Kennedy. Besides her involvement in HOW, she is a captain of the cheer team, the social media manager for the Hope Club and president of the Yoga Club.
The Teen of Impact competition started in late April, so Kane had to quickly assemble a team and begin fundraising. She was nominated Dr. Allison Boyle, school psychologist at Kennedy, because of her work with Heart of Wellness.
She accepted the nomination because of the good cause, but she also said, “My grandpa had a triple bypass surgery, so that was another reason why I agreed to it.”
Collecting $18,000 was no small feat, and Kane explained that the effort included a clothing drive, raffles, donations and fundraisers with local and chain restaurants, such as Chipotle. Once she formed her team, members organized a clothing drive that raised around $1,000 and attracted a lot of attention in the community, Kane said.
“We ran the clothing drive through Care Cycle,” she said. “It’s a company that gives you back money for donating clothing and shoes — we received over 4,000 pounds of clothes.
“We also did a 50/50 raffle, and we donated $200 from that,” she added.
“I had help from my parents, friends and their parents,” Kane said. “But a lot of it was all me.”
Lisa Lajam Warren, the mother of Kane’s friend Sophia Warren, helped Kane organize some of the fundraising events, and served as a mentor. “She started this team, and wanted to figure out a good way to reach out to the community,” Warren said of Kane, agreeing that the clothing drive attracted the most attention. “We were looking for some ideas and for a way for people to contribute.
“The response was amazing,” Warren added. Kane and her friends would be notified over social media or by text and drove around the area, collecting bags full of clothing or shoes from people’s front lawns.
“She’s definitely a hustler,” Warren said of Kane. “After the school reached out to tell her she’d been nominated she hit the ground running.”
Lorin Kane, Jessica’s father, said that he and his wife, Stacy, gave their daughter full control over the initiative throughout an eight-week stretch. “She did it all by herself,” Lorin said. “We told her, ‘If you’re going to do this, this is your thing.’”
“We thought inside the box and outside of the box to figure out how to raise money,” Warren said. “She learned a lot.”
“We’re proud of her,” Lorin added. “She really took it upon herself. She was determined, and she did a great job.”
Stacy Kane agreed that their daughter took on a leadership role. “She really organized everything on her own,” she said. “She should be commended for working so hard. She really is a go-getter.”
Jessica was one of eight people nominated in the metropolitan area. Toward the end of the fundraising period, her mother said, she had raised about $10,000, and in just a few days she raised an extra $8,000 through donations.
“She has such a great work ethic, and is very responsible and reliable,” Stacy said. “She’s goal-oriented, and never gives up.”
Jessica also started a sign business, called Signs of Time by Jessica Kane — @signsoftime on Instagram — using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. She donates a portion of the proceeds from the business to Sunrise Day Camp, a summer camp in Wheatley Heights for children with cancer and their siblings.
“She really has the kindest heart,” her mother said. “She’s a leader and a really good kid. The growth she has made has been absolutely incredible.”