Last week Kaylee, now a student at Tennessee Tech, was among the nominees for the 2010 Jefferson Awards given by WRCB-TV in Chattanooga. She was among those honored in Chattanooga. The Jefferson Awards included a list of 11 nominees who each had a wide range of volunteer and community service projects to their credit.
Winner was Chattanooga radio personality Keith Landdecker, recognized for founding an inner-city baseball league to coach, umpire and mentor youth in the Chattanooga area.
Each of the nominees was worthy of the honor, but Cleveland is partial to our own Kaylee, who not only created Tunes for the Troops but has taken its mission around the world.
Locally, Kaylee Radzyminski is a community servant at heart. She is also one of the first to volunteer when a worthy cause surfaces in Cleveland and Bradley County.
Many in Cleveland have gotten to know the perky young lady who began collecting CDs and DVDs at her home and shipping them out to soldiers in the field. She later expanded the program and now Tunes for the Troops has become an international program that has earned global recognition.
As of Jan. 21, Tunes for the Troops has sent more than 810,771 CDs and DVDs overseas that are worth more than $13.5 million. This was done through more than 800 satellite locations across the United States as well as the first satellite location in England.
She often tells the story of what first inspired her to begin the program. It came about while she was at a U.S. Naval Sea Cadet camp at the age of 14. The military personnel she met told her one of the things they missed most when they were serving in the field was entertainment. That spurred her to begin collecting the music CDs and then DVDs. That was in 2005 and the rest is history.
As new technology surfaces, Tunes for the Troops also tries to accommodate. They are now accepting old MP3 players and old I-Pods along with downloaded music and accessories. Hospitals where soldiers are recovering are now allowing them to have hand-held games and game cards for entertainment so solicitation has begun for those as well.
A few years ago, Kaylee was honored as one of the nation’s top influential people under the age of 30 by the Washington Post. She was named one of America’s top 10 youth volunteers in May 2008 at a ceremony at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, receiving a national Prudential Spirit of Community .
Last year, CNN Heroes spotlighted Tunes for the Troop as one of the nation’s most worthy “giving” projects and just a few months ago, Kaylee was honored for her legacy of “service above self” at Tennessee Tech when she was awarded the prestigious Daughter of the American Revolution Founders Medal.
Her list of honors could go on and on. Each time she is honored her hometown of Cleveland is also recognized.
At the age of 19, Kaylee continues to promote Tunes for the Troops, now headquartered at the Tennessee Tech campus where she is a student. It is now a service project of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies Fund for Excellence on campus. (Visit www.tunes4thetroops.org.)
Kaylee’s mother Stephanie is to be commended for her efforts in supporting her energetic, goal-oriented daughter in all she does. Whether she’s registering people into a Republican event, volunteering for Christmas shopping with underprivileged children or supporting our troops at special events, Kaylee is a take-charge, do-the-job person. She’s dependable and always respectful to those around her.
Kaylee’s patriotism is unwavering and her passion for God and country is impressive for such a young woman. She’s a good example of the bright and shining stars we have in our youth community here in Cleveland and Bradley County.
Congratulations Kaylee Marie Radzyminski, for bringing home another honor for Cleveland!
Your hometown is proud of you!