MISSION HILLS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- When 17 year old Kesia Lavelle was just a freshman, she had the opportunity to travel to Haiti, to teach English to 4th graders.
"I was really looking for an experience that would better me as a whole," Lavelle said.
What she saw there deeply affected her.
"They are completely deprived of everyday things we take for granted. Things like soccer balls, pens and paper - stuff like that," she said.
But among the extreme poverty, Kesia noticed that when the kids were playing soccer, it brought them joy.
But soccer even looked different in Haiti.
She said, "Lots of the balls were flat or wrapped in duct tape or had no air. Something we wouldn't play with."
So Kesia decided she would return to Haiti and would bring brand new soccer balls with her.
Amid planning this new goal, tragedy struck her family.
Her father, who taught her a lot about service to others, suddenly passed away.
"It changed me," she said. "Because it happened in a different country that was so deprived of normal things, I knew I had to go back and I know my Dad is proud of me; acting on my feelings of a much needed cause."
She did return in February and brought 50 soccer balls with her.
There were kids who don't have toys - but to give them a soccer ball was a big deal. Kesia says their faces lit up.
Bishop Alemany High School's Sister Sara Goggin was on both trips with Kesia and was amazed by her ability to take action on what she saw.
"I guess that's what makes me think of her - she's an extreme leader, she has a cause and she got everyone involved in making that dream come true," Sister Goggin said.
Kesia, who is now a senior at Bishop Alemany High School, already knows she wants to return to Haiti again.
She said, "It's an amazing feeling. I can't describe how amazing to do something that didn't take that much to make someone so happy."
Cool Kid Kesia Lavelle brings the gift of soccer to children in Haiti
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