Amid family tragedy, Farmington teen helped others
Mayor commendation for Jessica Autey Tuesday
by Laura Adelmann
While in the midst of a family tragedy, a Farmington high school student reached out to help others in pain.
Jessica Autey, 18, was one of six Minnesota students named a distinguished finalist in the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program for making and distributing 216 activity kits for hospitalized teenagers.
Farmington Mayor Todd Larson will recognize Autey with an official commendation for her volunteerism at the Feb. 21 City Council meeting, held at City Hall, and U.S. Rep. John Kline will meet with her Thursday to recognize her achievement.
Autey first noticed there was a need for the activity kits while regularly visiting her five-year-old brother Timmy in the hospital where he was undergoing cancer treatments.
Timmy had been diagnosed with a rare type of leukemia in July of 2009, and was undergoing aggressive treatments in a children’s hospital.
He and other youngsters would receive small gifts of toys and books, but Autey noticed older children were often overlooked.
Autey and a friend held garage sale and car wash, raising $1,600, to make and distribute the kits, filled with games, books and toiletries.
Before the project was complete, Timmy’s cancer was determined at a level four, the final stage, and he died in June, 2010.
Autey said she considers the project a way to give back to the hospital, where Timmy and her family received support and care.
“I feel like I have to give back to them after everything they did to help Timmy,” she said.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards represents the United States’ largest youth recognition program based solely on volunteer service.
Over 5,000 local honorees entered the contest and their projects were reviewed by an independent panel.
Judging criteria included personal initiative, creativity, effort, impact and personal growth.
Laura Adelmann is at firstname.lastname@example.org.