13-year-old Sydney Hertzberg from Michigan decided to enter a national essay contest held by Petco. She wrote how the kitten she adopted actually rescued her, instead of the other way around.



Julie Hertzberg

Sydney spends her time volunteering with the Ferndale Cat Shelter, and added her experiences working with the cats to her essay.

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

She wrote about some things she was personally going through, and how Mr. Mittens has helped her push through.

“I have an illness called POTS and so with some of the symptoms that come with the illness are dizziness, fatigue and muscle aches," Sydney told WXYZ. "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."

Julie Hertzberg

For the first place prize, Sydney won $50,000, and donated it to the Ferndale Cat Shelter.

“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 of the Ferndale Cat Shelter.

Julie Hertzberg

As far as Mr. Mittens, he's fared the past year pretty well.

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

As if the $50,000 wasn't enough, she's also starting a new program, called Sydney's Seniors for Seniors, where senior cats are placed with senior citizens, and all food and medical bills are paid for.

Read more at WXYZ

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