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Whiz Kid of the Week: Alana Ethridge

This 13-year-old runs her own foundation to help other youth.

Name, Age: Alana Ethridge, 13

School:

Accomplishment: Ethridge is the CEO and founder of Alana's Achievers.

Key to Awesomeness:

America may know her as one of the original cast members of the Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader? television show, but Alana Ethridge’s loved ones know her as a girl with a big heart. The 13-year-old runs her own foundation to help other youth.

Alana's Achievers helps youth set positive goals, focus on their education, make healthy lifestyle choices and inspires them to “achieve their dreams.”

The nonprofit has helped implement a reading program at local schools. It also offers a scholarship program to help youth participate in extracurricular activities.

“I think you should give back,” said Ethridge, who celebrates her 14th birthday next month. “When I started my own program, I had no idea what I was doing. But with help from Athletes for Education, I learned a lot, and I met a whole bunch of people that want to help out in the community. I think it’s just a great thing.”

With the help of Athletes for Education, a San Diego-based nonprofit, Alana's Achievers was formed in 2008. Ethridge has since tackled daily foundation tasks, such as making calls and social media marketing. She also hosts a variety of fundraisers each year.

Recently, she helped Kourtney Najjar, her 8-year-old friend from East County, raise money. Najjar is suffering from neurogenic pseudo obstruction. She is in need of a second multi-organ transplant after her body rejected her first multi-organ transplant.

Ethridge also recently helped raise funds for Danielle Lerma, her 9-year-old friend from Santee. Lerma suffers from Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis, a rare disease.

“Their families have to go through a lot,” Ethridge said. “It’s hard raising money for them because people don’t get that it costs a lot.”

In addition to her schooling and Alana's Achievers, Ethridge volunteers for Afro Puffs and Ponytails, Ashoka's Youth Venture, Get Ur Good On, Kids Are Heroes, San Diego Unified School District and Youth Service America programs. The honor student also spends time pursuing her acting career and playing and .

“She’s got a big heart,” said Patty, Ethridge’s mother. “She’s always been a people-person, helping other people, other kids.”

To learn more about Alana's Achievers and to find out how you can help, visit www.alanaethridge.net.

To help Ethridge's friends, visit www.kourtskrew.com and www.adayinthelifeofdanielle.org.

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