Titles and honors don’t come close to telling the tale of Theresa Kyte.
The Desert Mountain High School freshman is Scottsdale American Teen 2007, a member of the National Honor Society the past two years, a Gold Award recipient of the President’s Volunteer Service Award last year, and will attend the Lead America Youth Leadership Conference in June in Washington, D.C. She also will compete for the title of Miss Arizona Teen America 2007 in March.
Impressive. But more importantly, Kyte is co-founder with one of her older sisters of Kids Caring for a Cause. It’s a volunteer organization designed to help teens make a difference in their community by providing them with leadership opportunities.
The two-year-old group works with Valley charities such as the Phoenix Children’s Hospital animal assistance therapy program, Maggie’s Place shelter for homeless pregnant mothers and Child-Help, a group founded in 1959 for the prevention and treatment of child abuse.
At 6 p.m. Saturday, Kyte and many of her fellow volunteers will work the third-annual Drive the Dream Gala, a celebration at WestWorld of Scottsdale. On Wednesday, Kyte and members of her group stuffed 1,000 gift bags for attendees at the charity event.
Kyte and her sister, Brittany, 21, started Kids Caring for a Cause after Theresa’s involvement with the Girl Scouts ended. They liked helping people and were looking for a way to continue their volunteerism.
“I just got a bunch of girls together who wanted to continue helping out in the community,” Theresa Kyte said. “It’s really very important for people to help, especially young people. I love helping people because, regardless of what you do, your helping them makes them smile. That makes me smile, too.”
Kyte said she believes it’s more unusual for today’s youth to take up a cause and stick with it. She said she wants to continue the spirit her Girl Scout leaders, her parents Roxane and Ken, and older sister Laurelle, 23, helped instill in her. She also touts volunteering to her 13-year-old sister, Hillary.
“Theresa has an amazing commitment to give to her community,” said Kanksha Mehta, Kyte’s coach, a multipageant winner who prepares Kyte and other girls for competition in speaking, appearance and other people skills. “At 15 years old, she has done more than 10 times that of what many others her age have. People truly matter to her. She’s different.”
Kyte, whose focus at the Miss Arizona Teen competition will be “teens can make a difference,” said she takes great pride in the accomplishments of Kids Caring for a Cause.
While she plans to major in broadcast journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, she said volunteering will always be part of her life.
“My parents and the Girl Scouts supported me in everything I’ve done toward helping people,” Kyte said. “Volunteering is way more important than doing a pageant and other things in my free time. I’ve grown because of all of it.”
About her career path: “I want to be a news anchor,” said Kyte, whose idol is ABC’s Diane Sawyer. “I hope I can get into broadcasting and maybe be nearly as good as her. I want to do that and keep on helping people who need it the most.”