A year and a half ago, a brave little boy named Kellen entered our lives and inspired thousands with his strength, bravery, and smile. After battling congenital heart disease for five months, Kellen was ready to say good-bye and passed away waiting for his gift of a new heart. As with any parent, there was no limit to my love and desire to provide for his every need while he was alive. With multiple hospitalizations, procedures, and life changes over the course of his diagnosis and treatment, I could not do it alone. I required the support of not only my family, but my friends, church members, neighbors, and even strangers. Though this comprehensive support can be vital to families battling congenital heart disease, during our time in the hospital and after, I encountered many families with their own little Kellen’s fighting the hardest fight of their lives without the support that carried me such a long way.
In October 2016, with the Forrest Spence Fund, we decided to honor Kellen and bring a little light to the brave families of the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit by raising $800 to purchase Feeding Friends stickers and IV Pole Pals. However, just as with the overwhelming support provided during our journey, supporters helped us raise nearly $2,500 in under three months! We realized then that Kellen’s Big Heart Fund had a purpose and we decided to help meet the ever-growing needs of the CVICU at Le Bonheur long term. Over the last year, we have raised over $8,500 that have allowed us to serve over 350 meals to CVICU families, deliver over 50 toys and development items, and provide seven personalized superhero capes to heart transplant recipients. The last twelve months have been rewarding, but as we have continued to grow, so have our opportunities to provide expanded services to all of the heart families at Le Bonheur.
To develop the organizational structure needed to expand, Kellen’s Big Heart Fund became an independent non-profit in November 2017. Now simply named the Big Heart Fund, our vision is to develop a spirit of community among families battling pediatric congenital heart defects through social, physical, and financial support. With your help, the Big Heart Fund will develop and implement programming to provide the comprehensive support families of the Heart Institute at Le Bonheur need. We believe that kids should not stop being kids just because they are sick and parents should have the resources they need to feel empowered to care for their children. Together, we can make a difference for the bravest kids we know and ensure that every family has the support they need to provide the best level of care for their heart hero.
Thank you for joining us on this journey and we look forward to seeing you at our Heart to Heart reception on February 15th from 5:30pm-7:30pm!
Katrina Dorse, Executive Director