Little Kenny Rose to the Grand Club Again

Kenny Gulledge, Milford Relay for Life’s youngest participant and a second year “Grand Club” member shows off some of his fundraising wares, including the roses that have been a big part of his success.

By Rosemary Joseph-Kappel

Relay for Life’s youngest participant reaches “Grand Club” member for second year

“A rose by any name would smell as sweet…” and for Kenny Gulledge, every rose he sells is sweet, because it means he’s raising money to help people with cancer get better. Kenny worked to donate more that $1,000 to the American Cancer Society (ACS) through his participation in Relay for Life, Milford last year and is on track to do the same this year.

Kenny, a five-year-old Harrington youth, will begin kindergarten in the fall in the Lake Forest School District. Known to most Milford Relay for Lifers as “Little Kenny,” he will be walking around the Milford Middle School track for the third year on June 17 during the 13th Annual Relay for Life, Milford. When he was three he came out to the track for the first time and had a great time walking in the Relay with his aunt, Debbie Scanlan, who is the captain of the “Walking for a Cure” team.

The next year he joined “Walking for a Cure” as an official team member. He also started a fundraising initiative, with the help of his mother, Becky Gulledge. Kenny started selling roses in pink and white for $5 a dozen. Last year he sold enough roses that he became a member of the “Grand Club,” which means he made more than $1,000 for the American Cancer Society through his Relay for Life fundraising.

According to his mother, Kenny will also be joining the “Grand Club” again this year thanks to the young man’s tireless work. One might suspect that it’s mom behind the fundraising initiative, however, it’s mostly Kenny; seeing as that 5-year-olds can’t get a driver’s license, he does have to depend on mom for some things. While his mother accompanies Kenny to various events to fundraise with his roses, it is Kenny who explains what he is doing and asks for the donations.

Most of the funds are raised through contacts with family and friends. When invited, Kenny goes to an event (sometimes thanks to family members, his grandfather for example) he shares what he is doing and lets his natural charisma and heartfelt sense of giving take over.

“He realizes this is a cancer walk team, and cancer is something that makes you very sick and can make you go walk with angels,” his mother said in describing Kenny’s strong understanding of what it means to participate in Relay for Life.

Kenny walked last year, dedicating his participation to a special friend who at 18 was diagnosed with cancer. He began the walk at kick-off and was able to will his little body to continue to participate until nearly 1 a.m. Thankfully, this year Kenny’s friend is now in remission. Kenny not only enjoys the walking and talking to people, he also likes the kid’s games and his favorite thing, the dunk tank.

This year, Kenny has a little help with his fundraising from the Lake Forest High School Student Government Association. When the group of students heard of Kenny’s accomplishments and determination, they held a “Dress Down Day” fundraiser which will help Kenny greatly in his “Grand Club” success. In turn, Kenny will be dedicating his walk to someone who is very special to the students.

While Relay is Kenny’s longest charity involvement, he recently also helped his family put together donations for tornado relief to go to Alabama. As they were dropping off the donations to go to those in need, Kenny wanted to add a little bit more money to the collection jar because, as he told his mother, “We have to help the people!” And that shows precisely how Kenny rose to “Grand Club” status at only five-years-old. To assist Kenny in his goal to make a grand, you can contact him at (302) 398-6454.

Relay 2011 is set to begin at 4:30 p.m. with survivor’s registration, followed by the Survivor’s Reception at 5 p.m. All survivors’ are invited to attend this kick-off event and can register online or by calling (302) 422-4026 or 422-5339.