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WDEL's Delaware Stories
with Mellany Armstrong

UD sophomore wins 'Youth in Philanthropy' award

A University of Delaware sophomore's near-death experience changes her life and the lives of others.

19-year-old Gracie Firestone of Wilmington nearly died June 6, 2011.

"My heart stopped, I believe, 6 times. My brother did CPR to start off the process of trying to save me," Gracie said.

Gracie now has a defibrillator attached to her heart, and she puts her heart and soul into a project she created called 'Let the Kids Play,' which raises money to help kids all over the world.

"It really made a difference for me to start it myself and figure out how I can help people through my own ideas," she said.
Because of that work, Gracie has won the Youth in Philanthropy Award from the Brandywine Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Her next challenge is to raise $8,000 so she can climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and help children in African through the group 'Flying Kites.'

She sees her heart incident as a window to greater things.

"I was able to turn something that could have put me down and out into something bigger," she said.

Now she's training for the big climb and learning Swahili. To learn how you can help Gracie continue to help children, click here.

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