It was the summer of 2006 when Keri Jucha’s life would forever change. Upon returning home from a family trip to Israel, Keri became ill and was rushed to Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego with a brain abscess needing emergency surgery. Her surgery was a success and during her nine-day stay at Rady Children’s, Keri began making jewelry to pass the time. She made bracelets and necklaces and gave them to the nurses and staff who cared for her. Once back at home, Keri’s new-found hobby inspired her to take it a step further, selling the jewelry she made online - and to her surprise she raised more than $7,000! She used the money from the fundraiser to purchase a high-end theater system for one of the playrooms at Rady Children’s, complete with all the bells and whistles for our patients to enjoy a “night at the movies.” But she didn’t stop there; she began enlisting her Girl Scout troop for additional collections to purchase more items.In honor of her Bat Mitzvah in May 2009, she spearheaded another fundraising project, raising an additional $7,700. With those proceeds, she purchased 10 laptop computers, providing patients with an avenue to play games, browse the internet and interact with family and friends during their hospital stay. Keri’s latest fundraiser sold jewelry auction-style on Pinterest and she purchased tablet computers, DVD players, DVD’s and beanie babies.In total, Keri has raised more than $22,000 for Rady Children’s.
In addition to fundraising, Keri also became a patient advocate for Rady Children’s, speaking at various events including Children’s Circle of Care Celebration to an audience of 300, the Miracle Makers luncheon and the Rady Children’s Hospital 2009 Annual Meeting. She volunteered for the U-T San Diego Kids NewsDay in 2007 and has been a Team Captain for many of the Shamu and You Family Walk fundraisers.
Keri’s story and fundraising efforts have been featured on multiple television news stations, the U-T San Diego, the North County Times and many local community papers. Additionally, Keri received the 10News Leadership Award in 2007, received a certificate of recognition from Assemblyman Martin Garrick in September 2009 for her work benefiting the Hospital and won the prestigious “Jr. Miracle Maker” of the year award at Rady Children’s Miracle Makers Celebration in 2009.
In November 2013, Keri was selected as San Diego’s National Philanthropy Day Youth/Student Volunteer Honoree, a special day set aside to recognize and pay tribute to the great contributions that philanthropy - and those people active in the philanthropic community - have made to our lives, our communities and our world.
Keri’s work has had a tremendous impact on lives of our patients, those associated with Rady Children’s and in our community at large. She is an exemplary role model and has demonstrated that anyone of any age can make a difference.