Smiles for 3.1 Miles

When Aydin was in fifth grade, he lost his close friend, Diego. Diego loved to play — soccer, video games, board games, anything that let him spend time with friends.  

“He always had a smile on his face, lighting up the room where he was,” Aydin shared. “He always wanted to make everyone feel good around him. Even in the hospital room, he wanted to play games with people and have a good time.” 

From a young age, Aydin knew how it felt to experience the pain and sadness of grief. To honor Diego’s memory, he decided to find a way to support others through similar challenges. He was inspired to create a nonprofit, Project Smiles — through this nonprofit, Aydin set out to raise money to support people in his community that were experiencing hard times.  

His first fundraiser? A classic lemonade stand! 

"They say when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, so I took the saddening experience of my friend passing away, and literally made lemonade out of it to make people happy,” explained Aydin.  

His lemonade stand was an immediate success and allowed him to donate books to a local hospital. Each year, his fundraiser has grown and, this year, he decided to go the extra mile and organize a 5K to support Starlight — Smiles for 3.1 Miles. 

Aydin’s friends, school, and community came together to blow their $1,000 goal out of the water, raising more than $1,900!

I like when I put smiles on people’s faces while raising money to create happiness and joy in other people. That feeling is incomparable to any other feeling. It is awesome to stop whatever we are doing and to just focus on making a greater impact.

- Aydin, Starlight Peer to Peer Fundraiser

Starlight is honored to have been Aydin’s charity of choice for Project Smile’s first-ever Smiles for 3.1 Miles event. We are constantly impressed by this young generation that continuously shows up for people in their community who need support, like hospitalized kids.  

Are you inspired by Aydin’s story? Do you want to have an impact on kids in your community? Start a fundraiser for Starlight today and deliver happiness to seriously ill kids and their families! 

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