Kidz 4 Causes

Xander Black, Matthew Linhart, Samuel Steiner and Michael Bendok at one of the first coin drive events held in 2016. Three years later, the group donated $30,000 to T-Gen’s Center for Rare Diseases.

 

Arcadia News has been keeping tabs on four Phoenix Country Day School alumni since 2018. Readers might recognize them as the founders of Kidz 4 Causes, a nonprofit established back in 2015, when the boys were freshmen. 

Matthew Linhart, Xander Black, Samuel Steiner and Michael Bendok started the nonprofit after Samuel’s brother, Harry, was diagnosed with a rare disease called obliterative bronchiolitis.

“Our community rallied around Harry, only to discover that he was one of more than 30 million Americans with a disease that had no FDA approved treatment,” current President McKinley Paltzik said. “From this, Kidz 4 Causes was born, uniting classmates and friends to raise money for rare disease research through a partnership with T-Gen’s Center for Rare Childhood Disorders.”

But this group of industrious and compassionate students didn’t just stop with supporting rare diseases. Since its inception, the group has broadened its focus to encompass the many needs within its community and around the globe.

“In 2019, we raised money for the underfunded speech and debate programs,” Paltzik said. “In 2020, we raised money for humanitarian aid to Lebanon following the Beirut port explosion.”

That same year, in six months, Kidz 4 Causes raised $15,000 for COVID relief, focusing on Navajo communities that received only minimal federal assistance. This year, they’re again focusing on rare disease research. 

To date, that brings the total raised to around $180,000. So, where are the founders these days?

“Matthew is attending the University of Georgia, and Xander is at Michigan, where he runs on the track team. Samuel Steiner is attending ASU,” Founder Michael told Arcadia News. “As for myself, I am studying energy at Stanford, working on an energy startup called Fundusol and doing research at Stanford’s Precourt Institute for Energy.”

The current board members at Kidz 4 Causes are excited to continue their annual Run for Rare Disease Research, which they plan to host in the near future. 

“After putting this tradition on pause, we can’t wait to get the community back together to participate and support rare disease research,” McKinley said. 

Check out Arcadia News’ stories about Kidz 4 Causes in the March 2018, February 2019 and April/August 2020 editions at arcadianewsarchives.com

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