December 2020 Young Planet Leader – Maya Tharoo

Maya Tharoo is a 16-year-old philanthropist, public speaker, and founder of Miracle Makers Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting premature babies and their families. Maya herself was a premature baby, born at 28 weeks at the Arnold Palmer Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, weighing 1lb and 14oz. Inspired by stories of her experiences as a newborn in the hospital, Maya wanted to help other families who are going through similar experiences. So since the age of seven, she has been deeply involved in volunteering and philanthropy work with the Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies.

Through Miracle Makers, Maya volunteers at the NICU monthly, speaking to families of preemies, sharing her story, and giving hope. She also fundraises for the hospital’s annual fundraiser, hosts an annual holiday lunch for the staff and families at the hospital, has led many tours of the hospital, and has been given many public speaking opportunities to share her experiences from the hospital and in the philanthropic world. She has volunteered over 1,200 hours in 9 years and claims that the feeling of giving never gets old. Many of these opportunities were created and continue through the COVID-19 pandemic, showing that nothing can stop her drive.

Because of her philanthropic efforts, Maya was recognized as a Community Builder for the City of Orlando when she was given the Rising Star Award in 2014 by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. And in May 2018, I was the recipient of the Disney Dreamer and Doer Shining Star Award for Orange County. Then in October of 2018, she was given the amazing opportunity to audition and speak at a TEDx Talk in Sugarland, TX.

Her TEDx Talk was about the concept of youth philanthropy and why it is important for nonprofits to engage and utilize the talent and skill of younger generations. Youth philanthropy is when the youth give their talents, time, and treasures to the causes they hold dear. By giving the youth a platform and educating them about philanthropy, they can provide a fresh outlook on raising money, spreading awareness, and making a difference. Her TEDx Talk and her powerful message continue to inspire youth and adults alike.

Maya hopes that she can continue to inspire and motivate others, and share her message with the world.

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