Five years ago my heart broke when I learned that my sweet God daughter Kate had Leukemia. I was swarmed with memories of my late aunts, both whom had died of breast cancer. Surely God would not will it that our little Kate only 3 years old, should suffer such severe and painful treatments. Even though I never understood why it had to be this way, I have always had faith and tried to accept God’s will.
One night at the hospital, as I sat in a chair watching Kate sleep after an exhausting day of treatment; I prayed God would lead me and give me the strength, direction and resources to help this little child endure and survive the cross she was bearing. The next day I designed the bracelet “Kisses4Kate”. My hopes were that people would want to help me give Kate a fighting chance by supporting the idea of a safe and accessible home for her to come back to after her transplant. My first support came from my friend, Katye Oliver. She encouraged me and became my cohort and partner. I sometimes think she was truly sent by God with a mission to bring me not only her incredible energy and drive, but real comic relief at the most needed moments.
When we started our campaign, everything exploded. I could never have imagined the response we received from the community when we launched the website. People fell in love with Kate and wanted to help. Some said we were crazy, others slammed doors in our faces, but honestly I didn’t have time to argue with them. When we were told that Kate would not survive another round of chemo and Hospice was called in, there was no alternative. We had to succeed. Yes we were crazy, however, in 10 days we managed to raise $100,000 and moved the family into a new house prepared just for them.
Once we received the keys we worked tirelessly for almost 3 days non-stop to prepare Kate’s room in the new house. As it were, Kate began her transition and we were losing her very quickly. However, we were blessed that she was able to spend two nights with us in her magnificent princess room. It only took one look from her beautiful eyes to see and know that she was mesmerized with the beauty of a little girl’s dream come true.
When Kate died, a piece of me left this earth that will never return. It was the hardest blow I had ever received next to the death of my mother. Again, I asked God for strength and direction.
As the days pass my heart aches for Kate and for her family, but one thing gives me strength. I know her life had to have purpose and perhaps that was the reason she was given to me. I know there are other children that need help and don’t have a champion to speak for them. I must become their voice with the help of the volunteers of Kisses4Kate. People will never forget the little girl that touched their lives and made them hug their own children, even with all their imperfections. Kisses4Kate will go on in Kate’s name and become her legacy. We promise to help the children afflicted with this horrible disease, and their families. We want to be the support system for them that will give them the best chance of fighting and surviving. People have been drawn to us and we’ve accepted help from all over the country, as well as, all different professions and businesses. We are not your typical “charity”. We make things happen. When someone turned us away, two others showed up in their place to help. God has provided for us so we can do the same for others. We hope you will continue to support us and look forward to a long and successful future in Kate Thornton’s name.
Katherine Alyce Manzella