Jessie Lilly

Read about why this 17-year-old was 2nd place in our Readers' Choice contest

Edson, Alberta // Age: 17

In grade three, most kids are getting into reading and having sleepovers. Jessie Lilly was organizing Pennies for Peace, a school fundraiser for Afghan children. “I had so much abundance, and then I’d hear about what it was like in places like Afghanistan and Sudan,” Lilly says. “I felt like I needed to do something to help out.” Her ongoing volunteer efforts have not gone unnoticed—among other honours, Lilly was chosen as a youth ambassador for ultra-runner Ray Zahab’s Impossible2Possible Amazon expedition (she hiked for eight days through the jungle and helped build a school in Brazil). But the driven teenager does have one goal that starts and ends with her alone: to represent Canada in international triathlons. After her first season of racing in 2009, she won the Tom Longboat award as Alberta’s top female Aboriginal athlete, and now trains with the Edmonton Triathlon Academy.

This profile is part of our Top 30 under 30 feature.