Teen wins contest with essay about her cat, donates winnings to Ferndale Cat Shelter

Posted at 10:14 PM, Jan 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-05 22:34:04-05

FERNDALE, Mich. (WXYZ) — A 13-year-old girl is donating all her winnings in a national essay contest to the Ferndale Cat Shelter. It's a place where she volunteers and where she adopted a cat that she says actually rescued her.

Through an essay contest put on by Petco, 13-year-old Sidney Hertzberg grabbed the hearts of many. She wrote about how the kitten she adopted has been a saving grace and a fur friend forever.

“When I opened the check, my eyes... it was just crazy," she said. "My heart skipped a beat."

Sidney loves cats. She volunteers at the Ferndale Cat Shelter and decided to enter a national essay contest to write about her experience with cats.

“I figured OK, let’s write a story maybe by some miraculous reason we’ll get in the top something,” she said.

Sidney says the essay was straight from the heart; she wrote about what she’s going through personally and how her adopted kitten Mr. Mittens is helping her.

“I have an illness called POTS and so with some of the symptoms that come with the illness are dizziness, fatigue and muscle aches," Sidney said. "My cat Mr. Mittens, I got him when he was 4 ounces and he was about a week old, so he was very, very small and he had to be bottle-fed. And I really thought I was going to help save his life, but I did not even know he would actually help save mine."

Sidney won $50,000 for her essay and donated it all to the Ferndale Cat Shelter. The executive director says she couldn’t believe it.

“When I got a call from Petco saying that we were in the running to win a prize, I just balled on the phone,” said Deanne Iovan, executive director Ferndale Cat Shelter.

Sidney says she knows it’s been a tough time for so many people last year, she just figured this donation would be a perfect ending to 2020 and Mr. Mittens is also very active.

“He’s awesome. He’s swimming, he’s hiking, climbing, he’s skateboarding, he’s doing everything,” Sydney said.

And if $50,000 wasn’t enough, Sidney is starting a program called Sidney's Seniors for Seniors. It’s a program where senior cats are placed with seniors citizens and all the food and medical bills are paid for.