The Children's Institute Blog

Growing into a Lifechanger

Posted: Oct 29, 2019 by The Children's Institute


Jacob Haugh smiling
A few weeks before Jacob, who has autism, turned nine in the Spring of 2015, Jacob's parents asked him what he wanted for his birthday. A very mature "I have everything I need," was his reply.

"Our response - a teachable parenting moment about giving back to others - has evolved into an incredible fundraising journey for Jacob and the rest of our family," says Megan, his mom.


Jacob first chose to donate to Wins for Kids because his favorite sports team is the Pittsburgh Pirates. He also toured The Children's Institute of Pittsburgh to learn about the challenges that kids with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) and their families face every day. The inspiration he received from The Children's Institute and the Pittsburgh Pirates made Jacob one of the largest individual donors ever to Wins for Kids - with more than $50,000 raised in less than six years split between Pirates Charities and The Children's Institute - and earned him the Outstanding Youth Philanthropist of the Year Award for 2017 by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Western PA Chapter.

"It makes me feel humble to do something for someone else," Jacob explains. "I like that the money I raise is helping other people."

Jacob's biggest fundraising initiative has been the Wins for Kids Wiffle Ball World Series, an annual event at James W. Parker Middle School (JWPMS) in Edinboro, Pennsylvania, where he is now an eighth grader. In October 2017, the fifth- and sixth-grade homerooms competed against one another to play in a championship game against the teachers. Seventh and eighth graders were added in 2018. Jacob's goal is to expand the series into the high school by the time he is a freshman.

Jacob with Principal Buto"Jacob was already a little bit famous as a fundraiser when he started at JWPMS as a fifth grader," says Jason Buto, K-12 Curriculum Coordinator and Principal of JWPMS. "When he asked for permission to continue those efforts, I challenged him to take a leadership role. He jumped right in, developing an action plan that grows every year. It was such a joy last fall at our assembly to see all 700 of our middle school students active, engaged, and cheering, and to know that Jacob was the architect of it all."

"Jacob is one of the reasons why I am an educator," says Buto. "He is embracing his potential, and he's doing to do the world a lot of good for many years to come."

"We are such proud parents," says Megan. "Giving has become our family's biggest gift!"


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