The coronavirus pandemic has not stopped three young achievers in South Texas from making moves. They range in age from 12-16 years old.
Chapter one: Akki's Expansion
Akeila Tejwani is a boss. She opened a home-based bakery, Akki's Cupcakery & Tea, in December 2019.
The high school junior wanted to provide healthier eating options for her peers and give half her proceeds to a group of children's charities.
"I'm like, oh my God, I have my new business---and, then COVID-19 hit," she said. "It was like I don't know how I'm going to do this."
Team Akki is all family: Father, mother, sister, and even her grandmother. That means no leases or rent.
Her business presence is a contact-free experience online or through her mobile app. The Brandies High School students said she pushed her profit margin in the pandemic by enhancing customer experience, innovation, and expanding the menu options.
"We started off with maybe five recipes, and, now, we have 50 plus recipes to give to our customers," she said.
Tejwani said she gave $3,000 to children's charities from her growing pot.
"I'm looking to franchise, but that's a whole other story," she said.
Her most significant takeaway from this pandemic is refining self-focus.
"Learning to say no, not overwhelming yourself is one of the most important things," she said.
The 16-year-old is in the top four percent of her class. Her little sister's help in the bakery makes it possible to balance studies, the business, and getting into a young entrepreneur's program.
Chapter two: Kailey's Cover
Spinal muscular atrophy has not deterred Kailey Turner from her dreams. But COVID-19 slowed things down for the child model/actress.
"It's been pretty tough because I'm not able to do as much as I like---going out a lot," she said.
The 12-year-old is making the most of her time. Her auditions are virtual. She did a photo shoot where the photographer submitted her pictures to Brand Model magazine.
"He was like guess what you got selected to be put on a magazine---the cover it," she recalled. "I was super excited."
The coronavirus canceled a number of the beauty pageants she wanted to do. But it didn't kill her spirit of charity.
Turner donated toys to children in the hospital and clothing to Matthew's Closet, a ministry.
She also bonded with an elderly neighbor.
"He never, ever talked to us," she said.
Now, Turner said she visits the man in his 80s, all the time.
"So, I go every day, smile, and just be happy," she said.
The most treasured outcome of this pandemic is giving her family time to slow down and reconnect. Her mother is teaching her how to cook and bake.
"We were always so busy," she said. "We were always separated."
Chapter three: Samuel's Prayer
Samuel Cisneros attends the San Antonio Christian School. He plays football and Lacrosse.
The 15-year-old also runs his non-profit 'A Break for the Blue.' He uses the organization to foster appreciation for law enforcement. The murders of five members of the Dallas police community on July 6, 2016, inspired him.
"You hear little to nothing about the people who care and love for the police officers," he said. "It's like nothing but just hurtful things toward them."
Cisneros recognizes the growing scrutiny for law enforcement as cries for police reform still ring loudly. But the teen said he remembers police choose to serve and protect the community each day. In his opinion, the service of good officers deserves admiration.
The teen felt so strongly he nominated San Antonio Police Sgt. Kelly Bender for an award through the Rush Limbaugh Foundation. He sent a letter the Limbaugh's 'Support Our Heroes Award' because Bender made an impression.
"She was passionate about this job and about helping people and caring for people," he said.
The foundation gave SAPD $7,500 and an additional $7,500 to Cisneros' non-profit.
"I couldn't believe it," he said. "I got a little teary-eyed."
He uses donations to buy food, serve beverages, and get gift cards for police officers during 'gift drops.' Cisneros believes the cards could be a reminder on a tough day for police that the community care for them.
Cisneros spoke at SAPD substations, the Waco Police Department, and planned to take his generosity on the road before the pandemic.
As he does with police, the teen wishes he could talk to more people who are having a tough time during the pandemic. The high school freshman said he'd pray for them, their families, doctors, nurses, and people who are hurting.
"God is watching over all of this," he said. "God has this in his hands."