2013 Outstanding Young Leader

Cherokee Cheatham

19 years old
Spent 7 years in New York's foster care system

There are people that talk, people that listen, and people that act. When you come across someone that can do all three, then you have identified a budding leader. Cherokee Cheatham is one of those people. At age 17, she was a volunteer at a Nursing Home for Elderly. She befriended a woman named Maria, who was dying of lung cancer. Cherokee would hang out with Maria, talk, listen to her life stories, play Bingo, take walks, whatever Maria wanted to do. One day, Cherokee excused herself to go outside and have a cigarette. Maria stopped her and told her she too would die of cancer if she continued. Right there, Cherokee broke her cigarette and vowed never to smoke again. Then Cherokee went to her friends and demonstrated her resilience to stop smoking. This impacted many of her friends and even made a few of them quit. There is an example of talking, listening and action—Cherokee is a leader! Throughout her time in foster care, Cherokee was placed at 4 homes and 2 group homes. While some were better than others, she can reflect now how they have impacted the woman she is becoming. She also has a great friendship with her sister now after years of separation. Cherokee wants to work with kids and parents: “The reason why I would love to work with kids is because parents always give their kids toys and games and now computers and phones to play on, but little do they know, they are the best toy in the room.”


Biography written by FosterClub volunteer: Meagan Tuhy
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