Written by: Jenifer Pierce
Calista, now 12, started Calista Cares in December 2006 (at the age of 7), to help our local Special Olympics program because her brother, Austin, is an athlete. She had overheard our Special Olympics management team discussing the loss of their largest fundraising event and their worry about having to cut back on taking athletes to regional and state competitions. She knows how much her brother loves to be able to represent our county at these competitions, so she gathered her craft supplies and set to work. Since then, she has added bake sales, lemonade stands and raffles to raise much needed funds. To date, she has raised over $11,600.00 for the program. She is also a Special Olympics volunteer and Unified Partner in bocce and swimming. As a Unified Partner, she trains and competes with Special Olympics athletes as her teammates. Last year, she was awarded the Special Olympics Pennsylvania Volunteer of the Year award. She is the youngest to receive this honor.
When Calista found out that Austin qualified for a wish through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, she read about the program and decided to also try to fundraise to grant wishes. To date, she has raised enough money to fund 2 wishes (the cost of the average wish is $3,400.00). She is currently working towards wish #3 and has given up birthday presents 2 years in a row, instead, asking for donations to put towards granting a wish.
As if this isn’t enough, this past summer, she captained her own Relay for Life team and will be doing the same again next summer. She also hosted her own Cut-A-Thon for Locks of Love and gathers her friends to trick-or-treat for UNICEF every year. To date, Calista has volunteered over 2,800 hours. For more information, check out her website at www.CalistaCares.com
or her facebook page at www.facebook.com/CalistaCares
or her twitter page at www.twitter.com/CalistaCares