Each month, Central Penn Parent features a child who is doing great things. They pitch in to make a difference in their schools, places of worship and throughout their communities. They are a blessing to those around them—yet their efforts often go unrecognized. We want to thank them for a job well done! Each child receives a cape and a prize package from our sponsors.
When Kennedy Jet Kulish’s little brother, Kaeden, needed three heart surgeries within a year of his birth, the big sister didn’t just mope.
She took action.
Kennedy, 6 years old at the time, set up a small lemonade stand at her house and asked for donations. She donated the money she earned to the Children’s Miracle Network, which helped Kaeden during his fight.
Thus began Kisses for Kaeden.
Since its humble beginnings making lemonade from lemons, the group has raised more than $170,000 for a host of organizations, including Ronald McDonald House, Children’s Miracle Network, the American Heart Association and many more.
Kennedy’s latest project is putting on a graduation party for Moms House of Lancaster. “I’m doing a picnic and I’m going to have a bounce house and all my friends are going to help out,” said Kennedy, now 16 and a sophomore at Penn Manor High School. “We’re going to do face-painting and nails and have food and everything—all through Kisses for Kaeden.”
The organization has more than 70 volunteers, many of whom are Kennedy’s friends looking to complete their community service requirements to graduate. (Students need to complete a project of at least 30 hours to graduate from Penn Manor). And many end up enjoying the experience so much, they keep coming back.
Kisses for Kaeden holds various lemonade sales to raise funds as well as collects toy animals to donate to the police. The police in turn give the stuffed animals to children in difficult situations, such as after an accident or domestic dispute. Kennedy has also received the Presidential
Medal of Freedom award from former President George W. Bush in 2007.
Wendy Nagle, director of Children’s Miracle Network at Penn State Hershey, has only been in her position since November yet already knows all about Kennedy and her family.
“It’s kids helping kids,” Nagle said. “It’s a sister who saw the struggle her brother was going through. She understood he wasn’t the only one who had challenges. I’m sure she realized how many kids were in situations where they needed support and help.”
CMN has kids share methods with how they raise money for the organization, and Kennedy has shared her experiences. She’s also participated in their telethon and radiothon.
Kaeden has grown to love the organization that bears his name; he’s helped out more as he’s gotten older. He’s now an active fourth-grader and hoping to join the swim team, pending another stress test on his heart.
In the meantime, Kennedy said she simply wants to help children in need—in between living a very active life.
Kennedy, the daughter of Cammyjoy and James Rhoads, studies tae kwon do, volunteers as a junior firefighter, serves on Student Council and is involved with Girl Scouts. She also gets great grades and has been accepted into the Culinary Institute, where she’ll take classes next year in addition to her high school classes. “I want to own my own bakery somewhere in Lancaster,” Kennedy said. “I want it to be called ‘Kennedy’s Kissable Kupcakes and Klubhouse’ and inside have an indoor playground.”
Kurt Bopp is assistant editor/web at Central Penn Parent.