COLUMBIA CITY – With a mission to give away new books, Kate’s Kart strives to provide a heartwarming diversion for hospitalized children and their families, and to foster a love of books and ultimately literacy by encouraging children to read and parents to read to their children.
In June 2006, Katherine Anne Layman, known to family and friends as “Baby Kate”, was born. Shortly after his birth, he was diagnosed with birth defects and heart defects. After undergoing several medical procedures, including four open-heart surgeries, Kate was called home and died peacefully in her mother’s arms aged 18 months.
After Kate passed away, her family wanted to do something to encourage other families who were spending time in the hospital. In honor of Kate and her love of books, her family decided to start donating new books to children at their local hospital. Word of the Layman family’s efforts spread quickly, and soon more volunteers and additional hospitals expressed interest in supporting their cause.
During many hospital stays, Kate’s parents, Krista and Andy Layman, read books to Kate that she absolutely adored. As there were many days when Kate could not be detained after surgery, her family read to her as a way to bond and spend time together. When Kate felt a little better after each operation, she was fascinated by the interactive books that included touch and feel, flap lift and books with music buttons.
Today, Kate’s Kart is a story in books. By offering a brand new book, their goal is to brighten the day of a hospitalized child. Whether this child is scared, in pain or bored, their mission is to make their day a little better. Books are a very powerful tool and can help the child feel comforted, distracted and loved in an environment (like the hospital) that can be a bit overwhelming.
Kate’s Kart inspired local resident Heather Brown when her grandson went to the ER and received a Kate’s Kart book. Brown believes books help children in times of stress alleviate their anxiety about being in the hospital.
The majority of Kate’s Kart books are available from area hospitals, including coloring books and tactile books available for children up to 18 years old. There are currently 30 carts in various hospitals with over 250,000 books distributed.
“I received books at my birthday party in February. My goal was 44 books and I gave away 28,” Brown said. “They (Kate’s Kart) started doing this because they (Krista and Andy Layman) lost their daughter Kate. They (the Laymans) knew they wanted to do something for Kate to let her legacy live on.”
Brown said it was rewarding to give back to an organization that has helped her grandson.
The 14th Annual Ice Cream Party to benefit Kate’s Kart is June 25, a family event and one of their biggest fundraisers. Through partnerships with local ice cream parlors, Kate’s Kart is able to safely host this event and raise awareness of Kate’s Kart as well as drive customers to local businesses to purchase a sweet treat. This event will be held throughout Northeast Indiana at many local stores. Kate’s Kart volunteers will be on hand to share their mission, play games and distribute book bags to children. New this year is a punch card. Customers can visit as many stores as they can during the month of June and win a prize.
This year’s participating ice cream shops are: Sweet Sanity, Huntertown; Just cream, Fort Wayne; Candy on Main, Fort Wayne; Oh Five Scoop Shop, Fort Wayne; Rusty’s Ice Cream, Fort Wayne; The frozen spoon, Leo; The Tasty Spoon, Hartford City; The Brown House, Auburn; Iceburg Ice Cream, Albany; Kelainey Ice Cream, Lake Winona; Ice cream parlour; Bluffton; Meats and Treats from Sugar Creek, South Whitley; Hang 10 Desserts, Kendallville; sundaes on Sylvan, city of Rome; Former Ice Cream Shop 27, Decatur; scoops of ice cream, Angola; The Backyard Creamery, Angola; Kelly’s Ice Cream, Wabash; and magic wand, Churubusco.
Cash donations will be accepted on site throughout the month of June.
Sponsors are needed for this event to be a success. As a sponsor, you will help Kate’s Kart continue its mission in local hospitals. Kate’s Kart is asking your organization to consider sponsorship, either through financial support or through the donation of time, volunteers, prizes, etc. (Kate’s Kart is a registered 501(c)(3) public charity, so financial donations are tax deductible.)
Kate’s Kart is located at 10376 Leo Rd., Suite A, Fort Wayne, and the phone number is 260-999-6173. For more information visit www.kateskart.org