Sixth-grader receives $10,000 from Katy Perry for ‘Race to Kindness’ project
[Oct 30, 2021: JESSIKA HARKAY]
Since winning the National Kindness Speech Contest in July 2020, Orion Jean wanted to pay his $500 prize money forward. Through challenging viewers to spread kindness, Orion started the initiative by launching a series of “kindness projects,” to give back to his community. (CREDIT: RACE TO KINDNESS)
An 11-year-old Mansfield student, who began a campaign called “Race to Kindness,” received $10,000 from singer Katy Perry to go toward his mission of “spreading kindness around the world.”
Since winning the National Kindness Speech Contest in July 2020, Orion Jean wanted to pay his $500 prize money forward. Challenging viewers to spread kindness, Orion started the initiative by launching a series of “kindness projects” to give back to his community.
Orion recently started his third project, Race to 500,000 Books. In May through August of this year, he hoped to help give people “the power of reading” by collecting books for children.
“I wake up with a book in my hand and go to sleep with a book and I just wanted to be able to share my love of literacy with as many people as possible,” Orion said on an episode of the Ellen Show during which Perry presented him with the $10,000. “It’s all about being able to have something that interests you because that was the spark for me.”
Orion’s mission to spread kindness was first launched by his Race to 500 Toys campaign that ran through August 2020 and collected over 600 donations for Children’s Health Hospital.
“The pandemic had meant that toy donations were lower,” Orion said on the Ellen Show. “I wanted to be able to give the kids something that would make them smile in those dark times and what better way to make a kid smile but a toy?”
Later that year, through October and November, his campaign launched its Race to 100,000 Meals, where in partnership with Tango Tab, they collected nearly 101,000 meals to donate to those suffering from food insecurity.
“I knew I wanted to do something that would make even more of an impact and one of the biggest problems that has been pressing this nation and the world, really even before the pandemic, was that many people did not have access to meals,” Orion said.
The Martinez Intermediate School sixth-grader credited much of his work to his family and his 5-year-old brother.
“I want to be able to show him that he can do anything that he wants to and hopefully seeing this, will be able to let him know that he can do whatever he wants to do when he comes to my age or even older,” Orion said. “Hopefully this will be able to inspire.”
Perry, through her Firework Foundation, donated $10,000 at the end of the segment to Orion’s future projects, calling the 11-year-old “an inspiration.”
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