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5 Teens Who Are Making a Difference

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Adin Lykken
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Aaron Kotowski

Woofin' & Hoofin'

Adin Lykken, 20

Glen Ellyn, Illinois

Woofin' & Hoofin' sponsors a 5K race for people—and a 1-miler for their pets—to support a shelter and fight cruelty to animals.

Driving Force Adin's project marries two of his passions: animals (he grew up with one cat but his grandparents owned three dogs and three cats) and running (he was captain of his high school cross-country team). He always knew that he wanted to support a social cause but didn't know which one until he visited an animal shelter, DuPage County Animal Care & Control. "It was sad to see dogs and cats being abandoned," Adin says. "But I also realized many others were being adopted, which gave me hope." So he created Woofin' & Hoofin', a charity built around a fundraising race. "Instead of asking my parents for money, I applied for grants," he says. "I couldn't believe organizations would give money to teenagers on good faith!" Initially he received two $500 grants from DoSomething; once the event was established, he won a $5,000 Best Buy @15 award for social entrepreneurship.

Call to Action "I started by gathering a group of six people I could trust," Adin recalls. "All were achievers who could work independently." On Mondays after school the friends held 45-minute brainstorming sessions to throw around ideas. Eventually they agreed on raising money for the shelter by organizing Woofin' & Hoofin', a 5K for people, as well as a Doggie Dash 1-miler (woofinhoofin.org). Entry fees are $25 per person running the 5K, $20 for pet owners jogging alongside their dogs. In June 2009 about 70 runners competed in the first 5K at Newton Park in Glen Ellyn, and there were 15 Doggie Dash participants. "Everyone who competes gets something—either a medal or a doggie treat," says Adin. The following year there were 75 finishers in the 5K and 40 Doggie Dashers.

Pet Project The event has raised $16,000 for Friends of DuPage County Animal Care & Control, the organization that staffs the shelter. "This experience has taught me that life is about passion and dedication, not merely test scores and GPAs," says Adin, who is now a sophomore at Yale, majoring in political science and economics. "When I needed someone to take care of a last-minute emergency, I didn't turn to the person with the highest grades, but the one with the greatest commitment."