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Miami Teen Has Recipe for Successful Philanthropy Effort

Hoping to be in medicine one day, Alisa Sanchez isn’t waiting to make a difference in the health care field.

From left, Eduardo Bancalari, M.D., Alisa Sanchez, and Neva Kirk-Sanchez, Ph.D., PT.

The 16-year-old, who just graduated from Coral Gables Senior High School, recently made a donation to the Schatzi and Stanley Kassal Project: New Born Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Holtz Children’s Hospital at the UM/Jackson Memorial Medical Center — the results of a successful bake sale she organized.

“I love baking, and I love my community, so I decided to combine the two things that I love for my school service project,” said Sanchez, who will be attending Northeastern University this fall.

Sanchez, an avid baker, donated $300 after selling batch upon batch of chocolate chip cookies — 28 dozen in all, made from scratch — to family and friends, as well as colleagues of her mother, Neva Kirk-Sanchez, Ph.D., PT, assistant professor and chair of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine’s Department of Physical Therapy.

“I am so proud of her because she was able to see a need and connect that to something in her community where she could do something really tangible,” said Kirk-Sanchez.

Sanchez was inspired by her neighbors, Jorge and Mairi Bustamante, who recently donated $5,000 to Project: New Born. The funds were generated by the sale of a custom-made wine called “Little Wings” that commemorated the life of their daughter, Mikaela, who spent 11 days in the NICU.

Through her own fundraiser, Sanchez said she wanted to contribute to the program that meant so much to the Bustamante’s, and to the families of other NICU babies.
She was given a tour of the NICU by Eduardo Bancalari, M.D., director of the Division of Neonatology in the Department of Pediatrics at UM’s Miller School of Medicine and Chief of Newborn Service at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

“We are so appreciative of this wonderful donation, which was clearly created with a great deal of care and consideration from a young member of our community,” said Bancalari, an internationally renowned neonatologist who has been at UM since 1971. “It will boost our efforts to provide the very best care for our tiniest patients, and to help their families, as well.”

Tags: Holtz Children's Hospital, New Born Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, philanthropy