“I’ve always wanted to be a torchbearer,” says the bubbly 18-year-old aspiring television news anchor. In doing so, she’s following in the footsteps of her hero, ABC newswoman Diane Sawyer.
More importantly, Chana says, she’ll be spreading the word about her international nonprofit organization, which creates and delivers cards to children suffering from life-threatening illnesses. Chana was selected for the Olympic honor because of her extraordinary charity work, which she began when she was an eighth-grader at Rock Lake Middle School in Longwood.
She founded the charity, Love Letters: Random Cards of Kindness Inc., while in high school, and she brought the project to the University of Central Florida last semester.
To date, Chana’s organization is responsible for creating and sending cards to about 50,000 children around the world. Thousands of volunteers have helped along the way.
“We never thought it was going to get this big,” Chana said. “But now I have all these stories I want to tell about the importance of volunteering and how it’s the little things that always make people excited.”
That’s why she’s especially thrilled that Olympic sponsor Coca-Cola selected her as a torchbearer. She’ll have the opportunity to speak with reporters and Olympians after her one-mile run through Calgary.
Until then, she’s a “torchbearer-in-training.”
“I am not a runner,” Chana quips with a smile. So she has spent the past couple months jogging and taking spinning and yoga classes — getting ready to don the official white running suit and carry the 3.3-pound torch.
Still in awe of the trip, Chana says her mom will travel with her to take “lots of pictures for her scrapbook.”
When Chana returns, she plans to stay busy. As part of the university’s leadership-development program, LEAD Scholars, Chana has big plans to grow Love Letters: Random Cards of Kindness Inc. The former Miss Orlando Outstanding Teen says she’d also like to compete in the Miss UCF Pageant on her way to making Love Letters a project that might eventually be featured in every school across the country.