Don't tell Preston (16) and Gracie (13) Altree they can't change the world. This brother and sister from Tigard, Ore., have already raised thousands of dollars for tsunami survivors and most recently, for malaria prevention and awareness
Preston and Gracie Altree at the Oregon Coast. (Photo by Shari Altree, 2008)
Don’t tell Preston (16) and Gracie (13) Altree they can’t change the world. This brother and sister from Tigard, Ore., have already raised thousands of dollars for tsunami survivors and most recently, for malaria prevention and awareness.
Between soccer games, play practice, youth group and marching band, the two teens have managed to establish their own campaign: Kids Fight Malaria. They created a Web site and began gathering others to join their cause. Their efforts have raised more than $6,000 in donations for Medical Teams International’s work with malaria victims around the world.
After reading an article in People magazine about a young boy infected with malaria and fighting for his life, Gracie and Preston decided to raise money for this disease that is essentially unknown in their circle of friends.
They’ve tackled the cause like you’d expect other teens to pursue a driver’s license or a video game—speaking in front of classmates and youth group members, e-mailing links to friends and family, selecting pictures and writing all the Web page content themselves.
“The cause has changed them, too,” says their mother, Shari Altree. The two think beyond just their own needs and are concerned about children who live thousands of miles away in countries they’ve never visited.
A child dies of malaria every 30 seconds
Children in Uganda constantly face the threat of contracting malaria. (Photo by Kim Felton, 2006)
“We’ve never known anyone with malaria,” says Gracie, “but just looking at pictures [of children suffering from malaria] really gets me going. Seeing that sadness in their eyes brings me to tears.”
Realizing that even they can make a difference has been one of the most empowering aspects of the experience for Preston and Gracie. “Kids often feel powerless in changing the world,” says Gracie, but ‘Kids Fight Malaria’ is a cause anyone can stand behind.
“Anybody can pay $15 and make a difference,” adds Preston.
A site kids or adults can support:
What’s a t-shirt compared to a life?
Making a difference doesn’t require loads of money. But it can require a sacrifice. “What if you don’t buy that t-shirt or CD you want, but instead make a donation?” asks Gracie. “You could save a child’s life, and what’s a t-shirt compared to someone’s life?”