On the first one-year anniversary of the passing of our June ‘Kids to Know’ feature, Taylor Koulouris, it only seemed fitting to request a nomination from her family of another stand-out child who is doing extraordinary things in Tampa just as she did. With these things considered, and because of the friendship he shared with Taylor since sixth grade, getting to know Noah Cheong this month feels extra special.
At a time of year when so much is celebrated with the holidays, it’s important to remember that so much can change in a short time…and honoring and cherishing the people- every person- around us is what makes December truly special. This is precisely why we get to know Noah, someone who has always put others first.
Julie Tingley: Volunteer hours are required for high school graduation, but your dedication to service goes beyond simply checking a box. Please share how your interest in volunteerism and giveback started.
Noah Cheong: I began volunteering for organizations such as Metropolitan Ministries and Feeding Tampa Bay through Young Men’s Service League (YMSL), but it wasn’t until I started volunteering for Angling for Relief that I found a passion for helping others. Angling for Relief is a charity that teaches children with pediatric cancer how to fish as a sort of therapy to help get them through their treatments. It was started by my close friend Jake Klopfenstein who truly cares for those around him. I love setting up for the different fishing events and visiting kids in the hospital. It makes me happy to see them smile and laugh. I can only hope to make their day a little bit better.
Julie Tingley: How has your connection to pediatric cancer patients and other kids in need changed you as a person? Has your altruism influenced your future career goals?
Noah Cheong: My connection with pediatric cancer patients and other kids in need has shown me how the world is a place of endless possibilities. I’ve noticed how kids view the world as a place without limits, full of wonder, and full of excitement. Kids are genuine and see the world through a lens of creativity. I think we all should view the world a little more as a place of opportunity instead of doubt.
Julie Tingley: Have you found that your involvement in multiple charitable organizations has inspired your peers to also step up for causes and missions they align with? Who inspires you?
Noah Cheong: Many of my friends have found their own passion for helping others. I have one friend who really enjoys tutoring others and another who organizes events to make lunches for the homeless. I’m proud to say that at my school there is a culture of helping the community. I frequently see posts about different service events led by Plant students. I hope that as I walk with God to better my community, I inspire others to better the world too. I’m personally inspired by my friend Taylor; her loving spirit is always with me whenever I do anything for others whether it be volunteering or just being kind. She was a model for what it meant to love and stand up for others. Her family has started a foundation in her honor that will benefit kids of all ages and stages. Their goal is to help bring out kindness, the ability to do good, and the ability to give back just as Taylor did every day of her life.
Julie Tingley: Tell us about what you do outside of service, like your academic and athletic engagements. Tell us about your teachers and coaches.
Noah Cheong: In school, one of my favorite classes is calculus. Math has always been a favorite subject of mine and I really enjoy the problem-solving aspect of calculus. I have a wonderful teacher who teaches the content effectively and is always patient when questions are asked. Outside of school, I run track. My two main events are the 200m and 400m sprints. I enjoy the sport because of the discipline it takes and the kind people I’ve met in the track community. My high school coach values honesty, respect, and responsibility.
Julie Tingley: What is your favorite thing about growing up and living in Tampa Bay? What do you love to do with your family?
Noah Cheong: My favorite part of growing up in Tampa Bay is that there is so much it has to offer. I love the variety of sports, the beaches, the restaurants, and the bay itself. My family and I love going to the Lightning games together and fishing in the bay. We also enjoy traveling and making new memories. Another favorite activity of ours is spending time with our two dogs: Nala and Luna.
Originally published in December 2022 of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.