Chance to Touch Lives 'Drives' Huron's Sesi
May 25, 2017
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Only a few times, collecting more than 300,000 cans and bottles was as gross as it might sound.
Of course there was some mold, and a few bags had dead mice in them. Once, a bag was filled with ants, and Katie Sesi and her family would find them crawling around their car for the next month.
Another time, a duck bit her.
But those are just some of the funnier memories that were more than worth the opportunity for Sesi to meet and help an untold number of people, beginning when she was 6 years old – truly a life’s work so far for the Ann Arbor Huron junior.
Sesi is a recipient of an MHSAA/Lake Trust Credit Union “Community Service Award” for her work raising $40,000 over the last decade for University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. Playing her violin at the Ann Arbor Art Fair annually beginning in elementary school, and then taking on a can drive that’s seen her canvass neighborhoods all over her city and surrounding area, Sesi has managed to raise $10,000 every two years since 2010.
She’s also met at least 50 of her donors over that decade and received in the neighborhood of 300 letters from people encouraging her work and asking how else they might help.
“Meeting new people is just a good experience. It’s really interesting to learn about other people’s lives,” Sesi said. “My favorite part was the personal interaction. When I started doing the can drives, I didn’t think I’d talk to a bunch of people and learn their life stories. But people leave me notes that say, ‘Hey, you should come talk to me.’ For me, just talking to people is really fun. The unexpected chance to meet more people has been very memorable.”
It’s also an incredible story, considering Sesi’s decision to start lending a hand as barely an elementary schooler.
She’s played the violin since she was 3, and recalled reading a newspaper article about two girls playing their violins at a similar outside event. She thought to herself, I should do the same. Her mother, Yvonne Sesi, challenged her to make it happen.
Katie then realized that being 6, she didn’t really need the money people would give her while passing by. So she began saving toward what would eventually become that first $10,000 donation.
At 9, with her mom at the wheel, Katie started her can drives. The first netted only $9. But she didn’t give up. At times she would work neighborhoods every weekend, leaving a flier at people’s houses explaining her mission and letting them know when she’d be back to collect.
Soon, the car was regularly full with the front seats moved up as far as possible to make room for the overflowing supply of returnables. She estimates she’s collected cans and bottles “several hundred” times.
Sesi’s first donation to C.S. Mott went toward building “The Treehouse” indoor playground, and subsequent donations have gone toward research of childhood cancers and the hospital’s Child and Family Life center, which provides support for patients and their families during treatment.
Yvonne is a doctor, and Katie is interested in becoming a pediatric oncologist (or going into business, or perhaps both). Helping children is especially close to her heart; one of her most memorable can drive interactions came with a family that had lost a son to lymphoma who had been treated at Mott; they invited her in to meet their newborn daughter they’d adopted after his death.
She’s choosing to donate half of her $1,000 award to U-M’s Chad Tough Fund, which directs funds to childhood cancer research in honor of Chad Carr, the grandson of retired Wolverines coach Lloyd Carr who died in November 2015 at age 5 after a fight with pediatric brain cancer. She’ll donate the other half of her award to the Ann Arbor Huron girls tennis team; she’s an all-state No. 1 singles player and team captain.
A regular in some neighborhoods, where people recognize her from past drives, Sesi said she’s learned a lot about perseverance and hard work – but again, is most inspired by the many people she’s met along the way.
“I knew early on that I wanted the money to go to children with cancer because it seemed to me completely unfair that kids should be denied a carefree and fun childhood,” Sesi wrote in her application for the award. “All together, I found that people have tremendous hearts and an unlimited capacity for supporting, helping and giving to others."
The Community Service Awards are sponsored by the Michigan High School Athletic Association and Lake Trust Credit Union to recognize student-athletes' efforts to improve the lives of others in their communities. In addition to the $1,000 award, the Lake Trust Foundation is awarding an additional $500 to each honoree, to be donated to a non-profit, 501 (c)(3) organization of the awardee’s choice.
PHOTOS: (Top) Katie Sesi, next to her violin case, has played to raise money every summer since she was 6 at the Ann Arbor Art Fair. (Middle) Sesi has received hundreds of notes like this one thanking her for her efforts. (Photos courtesy of Katie Sesi.)
2017 Community Service Awards
Sunday: Colon "Yard Squad" - Read
Monday: Bailey Brown, Brighton - Read
Tuesday: Justice Ottinger, Newaygo - Read
MHSAA, MHSFCA to Provide Spring Evaluation Camps for College Football Hopefuls
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
March 27, 2023
The Michigan High School Athletic Association, in partnership with the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA), will be hosting first-ever Spring Evaluation Camps to provide athletes with aspirations of playing college football opportunities to show their skills and abilities to college coaches at one of five locations.
The one-day camps will take place between May 15-18 at Jenison High School, DeWitt High School, Jackson High School, Brighton High School and Detroit Country Day High School. The MHSAA’s involvement will allow for the opportunity for Division I college coaches to attend, and representatives from college football programs at all levels are expected.
Athletes who will be juniors or seniors in Fall 2023 may register to participate via a link on the Football page.
“This is an attempt by the MHSAA to help our athletes get exposure during the spring evaluation period in a way that does not intrude on spring sports,” said Brad Bush, an MHSAA assistant director and past high school and college football coach. “We are working with the MHSFCA to help put together a first-class experience for the athletes and college coaches.”
Cost is $20 per player, and each registrant will receive a shirt to wear based on the athlete’s graduation year and registration number so college coaches in attendance can monitor their camp performance. College coaches also will receive registration information for each athlete in attendance.
All athletes must have a coach from the athlete’s school staff present at the camp, and that coach must be a member of the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association.
MHSFCA executive director Andrew Pratley called the Spring Evaluation Camps a tremendous opportunity for high school athletes in Michigan.
“We are very excited with the partnership with the MHSAA that allows our kids the opportunity to wear a helmet and do drills in front of college coaches in the spring at a minimal cost,” Pratley said. “College coaches are thrilled, and it's a unique opportunity to have the rules waived by the MHSAA at these events only in order to showcase the tremendous talent all over the great state of Michigan.”
The Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA) has been devoted to the promotion of high school football since its inception in March 1972. The MHSFCA has more than 2,500 members and provides several educational and development opportunities for members and their athletes, including an annual coaching clinic, an annual leadership conference for coaches and potential team captains, and the annual summer East-West All-Star Game for graduated seniors. Additionally, the MHSFCA’s Leadership Development Alliance is in its third year of training coaches and offering veteran members of the association as mentors.
The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.3 million spectators each year.