Joris Hutchison, 14, likes playing Minecraft and soccer with his friends. He’s also a big fan of the Sounders.
But when he was 7 years old, another one of his interests led to work that has landed his story in the new book “Young Change Makers: Compassionate Kids” by Stacy C. Bauer. (The book is part of Bauer’s seven-part series, “Young Change Makers.”)
A quest to help cheetahs
This path started when he was just 2 years old. That was when he knew that cheetahs were his favorite animal. At age 6, he read that cheetahs could go extinct in his lifetime. When he asked his mom how he could help, that led them to finding the N/a’an ku sê Wildlife Sanctuary in Namibia. The following year, at age 7, Joris started to raise money to help the sanctuary to protect cheetahs.
As Joris recalls, the fundraising started small. “The first year, when I was 7, we basically asked people we knew for money, and did a couple lemonade stands,” says Joris.
“Asking the same people for money wouldn’t work for more than a year, so afterwards we started thinking of other ideas.”
That included putting up lemonade stands along the STP, the Seattle-to-Portland bike ride event; donations instead of birthday presents; and doing T-shirt campaigns on Custom Ink, which eventually helped raise more than $12,000, according to Joris, who lives in Queen Anne with his mom and Maple Leaf with his dad.
His fundraising push also led to him winning a $5,000 award, the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes. Altogether, his work over the years has helped raise $36,000 to help the cheetahs.
Not bad for a kid who starts high school this fall.
And every year since his fundraising started, except for during the pandemic, Joris has traveled to Namibia to visit the sanctuary where he has helped fund GPS cheetah collars. The collars are helpful to show local farmers that cheetahs are usually not a threat to livestock. (Much of the threat to cheetahs comes from people who shoot cheetahs while trying to protect their livestock animals.) A tracking collar is often placed on a cheetah after a call comes in to the sanctuary about a cheetah roaming a farm’s land.
“The future is still uncertain for cheetahs and many other big cats and carnivores, but I believe that if we work together we can turn this in the right direction,” says Joris.
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