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Our History

Founding Story



In 2001, 600 students at Vista Verde Elementary School attended an assembly as a part of a pilot project for what would become Team Kids’ flagship Challenge program. There, they met Jeremy, a three-year- old boy who suffered from a rare heart condition that required serious treatment. His family needed $20,000 to fly him to Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic to receive life-saving heart surgery, and his story inspired these students to help.

From selling popsicles and hosting coin drives to organizing a pancake breakfast with fire fighters, kids did everything they could to support Jeremy and his family. As media stories about their commitment appeared in the OC Register and the LA Times, the whole community began to take notice. Readers sent in checks, an anonymous celebrity gave a significant donation, and a local pilot offered his jet, pilot and fuel to fly Jeremy to Minnesota. Thanks to these students and the community, Mayo Clinic doctors performed successful heart surgery on Jeremy and sent him home to Irvine, where he is living happily today!

The entire process demonstrated that kids are a powerful community resource. These students sparked the birth of Team Kids, officially founded in 2001 by current CEO Julie Hudash, founding Board President Fire Captain Stephen McHale, and our first youth participants, many of whom have since graduated from college! Since the beginning, more than 100,000 students have completed the Team Kids Challenge.




Watch Team Kids Founding Story in Action Told By Founding Heroes

Read News Stories that Helped Launch Founding Story

Jeremy Basketball Team Kids family night OC RegisterJeremy LA TimesLA Times Jeremy


We salute the following founding Team Kids partners whose shared investment in kids have created our successful model!



Today in Orange County, most of the work being done in health and human services focuses, appropriately, on the immediate needs of the disadvantaged. Team Kids takes a different approach, directing their energies toward our youth, teaching them the value and power of working together to solve community issues. In so doing, they are developing the philanthropists of the future and creating systematic change in our community.”

OC United Way, CEO Max Gardner

Team Kids is addressing critical child and community needs today, while also building our next generation of problem solvers.”

Dan Lubeck, Team Kids Board Member

I became a Founding Team Kids Board Member in 2004, after witnessing the leadership and compassion being developed in the students participating in the Team Kids Challenge Program. Team Kids engenders a culture where it is everyone’s right, regardless of age, to be a powerful agent for change.”

Bethany LaFlam, Team Kids Board Member

Team Kids, to me, is an antidote to entitlement and one great way to create the responsible citizens we all want as future leaders.”

Mike Cupps, Team Kids Board Member; Private Investor

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