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Local teens create offshoot of Hope to Health program for ECH

The El Camino Hospital Foundation is about to add another feather to its cap in the form of a philanthropic subsidiary for teenagers.

Hope to Health 4 Teens (H2H4Teens) kicks off 6 p.m. Friday with a Grand Opening Party and fundraiser at Cheryl Burke Dance Starlite, 1400 N. Shoreline Blvd., A, in Mountain View. The dance studio is owned by Cheryl Burke of "Dancing with the Stars." Burke and her most recent partner, actor Gilles Marini, will attend the grand opening from 6-8 p.m.

Friends since elementary-school days, Lexy Steinhilber, now a sophomore at St. Francis High School, and Menlo School sophomore Dominique Curatola co-founded the teen organization to mirror their mothers' organization, Hope to Health (H2H), a branch of the El Camino Foundation that raises funds to underwrite health care for low-income women, purchase diagnostic equipment, finance educational programs and support health-care initiatives.

"We just though it would be interesting and fun to get an organization together for our age group to raise money for teen programs," Steinhilber said.

Steinhilber's mother, Lucia, said, "The girls just kind of observed us and started their own version of H2H."

"My mom has been an H2H member for quite a while, and has a lot of fun when she donates," Curatola said of her mother, Valerie Curtola. "It's something I wanted to do for teens that El Camino didn't have."

H2H4Teens is open to young women 14-19 and membership is $30 annually. In addition to monthly meetings tentatively scheduled on the El Camino Hospital campus, Steinhilber said the organization plans to host four fundraising events each year.

"We have our own ideas about fundraising, but we run them by the parent organization," she said.

And just like its parent organization, H2H4Teens members will vote each year to approve specific funding requests that benefit teen girls. In speaking with many of her peers, Steinhilber said eating disorders ranked as one of the main issues, as well as acne and other skin ailments.

"The real goal is for the kids to learn about their own health and learn how to fundraise," said Lindsay Greensweig, executive director of the El Camino Hospital Foundation.

Curatola and Steinhilber have submitted a draft charter complete with board structure, proposed fundraising events and a mission statement: To raise funds for developing programs and awareness to improve teenage health through El Camino Hospital's "Hope to Health" program.

"The girls are also going to learn leadership skills," Lucia said. "They had to present this to the H2H board. That was a little scary."

Hope to Health member Betsy Dawes will serve as liaison between the parent and teen organizations.

"The thing that I find most inspirational is that these girls at this young age are really interested in philanthropy and helping others," Dawes said.

The two co-founders will serve as H2H4Teens co-presidents, Nicole Wolf has been recruited as vice president and Nika Ayat as secretary. Tickets to Burke's grand opening cost $149 – $50 is tax deductible and donated to H2H4Teens.

Curatola said 150 tickets have been sold, with 50 more to go as of last Friday. In the meantime, she, Steinhilber and Wolf are busy preparing a presentation for the grand opening to recruit H2H4Teens members.

"I always wanted to do something with the hospital … to stay connected to El Camino," Curatola said.

For tickets and more information, visit www.regonline.com/cherylburkedance.

Contact Mary Beth Hislop at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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