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Teen gives from the heart, for the heart.

Byline: DENNIS McCARTHY

"You don't find a lot of Caties out there. She's opened the door for other students to be creative at their own schools."

- JULIE KLAYMAN, youth market director for the American Heart Association.

Caitlin Yagher is leaving quite a legacy at her high school, Harvard Westlake.

The 17-year-old senior has put together a 20-page how-to manual for future classes to continue a charity event - Art for the Heart - that she created this year.

It raised $10,000 for the American Heart Association's research grant projects, a hefty sum in these tough economic times.

She did it for the grandfather she never knew who died of a heart attack, and for her 2-year-old cousin who underwent successful open-heart surgery.

"My grandfather passed away before I was born because of something that could have been fixed today, and my little cousin lives because of that technology," Catie says.

"This is important to me and my family."

What Catie did was gather all the artistically minded classmates like her and asked them to create a piece of art that could be auctioned off for the heart association.

The students painted, sculpted, drew and photographed pieces of art for a silent auction. Added to their work were a few art donations from professional artists.

"We have a 'Jump for the Heart' program for elementary and middle school kids, but this is the first time anyone at the high school level has started her own program to help raise funds for us," said Julie Klayman, youth market director for the San Fernando Valley area chapter of the American Heart Association.

"In these tough economic times with schools struggling with budget cuts, the $10,000 she raised really helps us fund new grants.

"She's an incredibly inspiring young lady, not just to youth but to me. I'm an almost 40-year-old woman. When I was 17, that's not what I was doing."

Caitlin wasn't done after raising the money. She spent this summer interning at the heart association to learn how the organization worked.

Now she's put together a manual that hopefully will spread to other high schools and spark more creative ideas to help the heart association.

"My goal is to branch out to every high school in Los Angeles," she says.

Good luck, Catie. I hope you do.

dennis.mccarthy@dailynews.com,

818-713-3749

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Photo:

(color) Harvard Westlake student Caitlan Yagher, center, with Julie Klayman, far left, and Tesha Young of the American Heart Association. Catie organized an auction of student and professional artwork at her school and raised $10,000 for the charity.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 11, 2009
Words:434
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