August 22, 2018

Today we take a look at some of our Kid Heroes from earlier shows.  Later in the show, Bruce Gale brings us a new interview with our latest Hero, Allie Boyer.

A campaigner for education for all and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head three times in 2012 by a Taliban hitman, showed the us all that one child can make a positive difference in the world.  And she is not alone.  There are a lot of great inspiring examples of the youth making a change in the world – either in their local environment or at an international level. These young people inspire hope for our future.  You're never too young to accomplish great things.

On a global scale, the youth accounts for a fourth of the world population.  In spite of a negative media portrayal, young people are more socially aware then previous generations. These kids see no reason to wait until they are older to make a difference in the world. 

When given the chance, and with a little help from the adults in their life, kids often want to speak up and do something about the issues they care about.  Kids in Generation Z  are doing remarkable things, and most of them won’t ever make headlines.  Kid Heroes have always been an important part of our show.  Today, we look back on a few of those here...

Max Wallack
Max Wallack

We start today with Max Wallack and his work to keep Alzheimer's patients focused and engaged, from founding Puzzles to Rememberin his family's garage to his prodigious journey through the Molecular Psychiatry and Aging Laboratory at Boston University School of Medicine's Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics to the halls of Harvard Medical School. @PuzzlesRemember

Max founded Puzzles to Remember in 2008, in memory of his great-grandmother, Gertrude Finkelstein, who died of Alzheimer's disease in 2007. He was 12 years old at the time.  The nonprofit provides puzzles to nursing homes, veterans facilities, and other facilities that care for Alzheimer's and dementia patients. Together with Springbok Puzzles, Max designed the puzzles specifically for people with Alzheimer’s disease—just 36 large pieces in each. As a child caregiver until the age of 10, Max recognized the calming effect of puzzles on his own great grandmother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s. Today more than 34,500 puzzles have been distributed around the world.

The Alzheimer's Association estimates that more than 5 million people in the United States are living with Alzheimer's disease, making it the most prevalent type of brain function loss, accounting for nearly 65% of all dementia cases. The World Health Organization estimates that 35 million people suffer from this disease worldwide. There is no cure, but studies have shown that patients who engage in simple mental activities, such as working jigsaw puzzles, can slow down the progression of this terrible disease.

Max Wallack graduated from Boston University and worked as a Research Intern in the Molecular Psychiatry and Aging Laboratory in the Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics at Boston University School of Medicine. He is currently a student at Harvard Medical School. 

Aaron D'Errico and Stan Lee
Aaron D'Errico and Stan Lee

Aaron D'Errico had one dream as a child — to be a soccer star like his father, David D'Errico, an original Seattle Sounder and former U.S. Men's National Team captain. 

But where Aaron's dreams went, his body couldn't follow.  He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was just a year old. Not only that, he was hit by a truck while in his wheelchair in February 2011. He lost his job as a result, and sometimes forgets things or loses his train of thought. He also has a learning disability that he said made school extremely difficult for him.  But that wasn't about to stop him.

Aaron put pen to paper and created Ammon Walker, a comic book superhero and super-spy who uses his status as a professional soccer star as his cover. Like Aaron, Ammon has cerebral palsy. But unlike his creator, Ammon has developed technology that allows his body to overcome it.

D’Errico himself has become an inspiring hero to many, including Marvel comics icon Stan Lee.  His desire to become an illustrator really caught fire after receiving encouragement from Lee at the Emerald City Comic-Con.

Aaron’s primary goal is to educate others, build awareness, and help people who are living with similar disabilities. “I still want to help others via spreading awareness of cutting-edge medical breakthroughs via my heroes and their stories,” He says. “So in that I’m realizing my goal.”

Arifa Nasim
Arifa Nasim

When Arifa Nasim was 14, reading Jasvinder Sanghera’s book, “Daughters of Shame,” had a profound impact on her. The collection of stories from those who suffered through forced marriages and honor-based violence motivated her to become a voice and an advocate for the victims of such abuse. After years of campaigning, fundraising and raising awareness about the prevention of honor-based abuse, she was selected as an official UK delegate to the Sustainable Development Goals Summit. It was there that Arifa realized educational movements at the grassroots level were the source for change on a larger scale.

She founded Educate2Eradicate, a non-profit organization committed to spreading knowledge to prevent the hundreds of thousands of individuals at risk from experiencing forced marriage, genital mutilation and honor-based abuse. Educate2Eradicate provides information and resources online, leads training for youth and educators, and organizes events to increase understanding on the dangers of honor-abuse and how to prevent and fight against violent practices. 

To date, Arifa has educated more than 5,000 individuals and plans to grow Educate2Eradicate into a holistic program, training larger organizations and offering counseling and legal advice to victims.  @educate2eradicate

Sanjana and Nandini
Sanjana and Nandini

Kimberly O'Keefe brings us this interview with our Heroes, Sanjana Gangadharan and Nandini Arakoni, co-founders of the nonprofit Side by Side Smiles.

Thousands of children around the world are affected by clefts lips and/or cleft palates. Furthermore, 93% of these children who do not receive surgery will die before their 20th birthday. None of these kids should be forced to suffer when there is a simple solution that only costs $250. Side by Side Smiles is dedicated to helping sponsor cleft surgeries for children who cannot afford them. For more information on how to donate, you can visit the bracelet page to purchase a handmade charm bracelet and learn more about the special meaning behind the jewelry item. Side by Side Smiles hopes to motivate and inspire others to help make a positive impact on the world.  So far, they have raised over $24,000.

As a co-founder of this charity, Nandini has a personal attachment to the cause behind Side by Side Smiles. Her family immediately found out that she had a cleft lip when she was born. She says she was incredibly lucky to have access to the proper care and resources that were necessary to treat her cleft lip. After a few surgeries, she was left with nothing more than a little scar as a reminder of my cleft journey. Additionally, she grew up with a completely normal childhood, but unfortunately, thousands of children are robbed of this same opportunity.


20 year-old Allison Boyer is a California native who has been fighting for the orangutan since she was 7.  Whenever possible, Allie would do her school projects on orangutan conversation... and became known as 'the orangutan girl'. As Allie grew older she continued fighting for the orangutans. When she was in junior high school she created her own fundraiser: Purses for Primates.  

Purses for Primates is a non-profit group that collects gently used purses to re-sell at parties. The orangutan is now considered a critically endangered animal and only lives in Sumatra and Borneo. Palm oil plantations that are taking over the rain forest are displacing this nomadic creature at an alarming rate. She is determined to do something before a creature that shares 98% of our DNA is wiped off the face of the earth.

As a Youth Ambassador for Orangutan Outreach, Purses for Primates has raised over $27,000 dollars for the orangutans.  @Purses4Primates

Now Bruce Gale brings us today's interview with Allie Boyer, this week's Kid Hero of the Week.