At age 12, kids are expected to be – well, just that: kids.

But as Connie Siskowski discovered while completing her PhD, there’s an overwhelming number of kids in the country who serve as caregivers in their households. They’ve given up a portion of their childhood to care for their parents, grandparents, siblings and other family members who need help due to a disability, mental illness, substance abuse or other conditions.

You can listen to their stories here.

(Pictured: Connie Siskowski and children of the AACY)

So in an effort to give these kids their childhood back and provide the support no one was giving them, Siskowski founded the American Association of Caregiving Youth, which is headquartered in Boca Raton.

On Feb. 28, the organization is hosting their fourth annual fundraiser, Hearts and “Soles.” The dinner and auction will be held at the Polo Club at 7 p.m., with all proceeds going toward the children “who are filling big shoes.” The event will honor Frank Barbieri and Helen Babione, both longtime advocates of the organization.

There will be an open bar, a DJ, dancing, silent and live auctions, a speed raffle, a wonderful dinner of steak and large prawns – plus make your own sundaes for dessert – and Calvin Klein models that will be helping throughout the event. Tickets are $150 per person and $1500 for a table of ten.

Since the organization’s inception, more than 700 students have been enrolled in the Caregiving Youth Project, which allows the group to work with each individual until he or she is 18.

But Siskowski says there’s still a lot left to do.

There’s an estimated 1.4 million caregiving youth in the U.S., according to the organization’s website. And every year, the number of referrals and applicants for the program increases, she says.

To purchase tickets to the dinner, call 561/391-7401 or visit aacy.org. The Polo Club is located at 5400 Champion Blvd., Boca Raton.