HIBBING — Harper’s mom and dad used a gas card for trips between the hospital, the Ronald McDonald House in Minneapolis and their home in Keewatin shortly after she was born with a congenital heart defect.
Taylor’s parents were grateful for gas cards too, as they helped ease the financial strain of traveling several times a week between Hibbing and Rochester for her oncology and chemo appointments.
Angie and Josh Weaver could identify as well. Their daughter, Ameila, has Dravet Syndrome and is frequently hospitalized. They received help with lodging.
“The support of her community and family was a huge comfort to her,” reads the Kids Kare Fund new website kidskarefund.org. “It definitely helped her be brave during her stay.”
All are recipients of the Kids Kare Fund, which “provides financial first aid to local families of children with health issues.”
Formed in 2012 by a group of individuals interested in helping area children battling health issues, the Kid Kare Fund now provides up to $500 for prescription co-pays, gas cards for traveling to and from medical appointments, medical equipment/supplies, lodging during hospitalizations, and other needs not covered by insurance.
Those eligible are children with health issues under the age of 18 and residents of St. Louis or Itasca county. There are no family income requirements.
Angie Weaver is so passionate about helping families in situations like hers that she joined the Kids Kare Fund Board of Directors.
“I understand how hard it can be to have a child with health issues,” she said. “I want to see the Kid’s Kare Fund grow and help more families in our community.”
Erin Norenberg, Taylor’s mom, is just as passionate. She’s currently leading the board.
“After my daughter started chemo at 14 months of age, I was amazed at the generosity of others who helped us out financially when I needed to cut back on my work hours to care for her,” she said. “I felt very strongly about being part of an organization such as the Kid’s Kare fund to be able to pay if forward and financially help families in our community.”
The annual Red Ore Run each July in Hibbing is the largest fundraiser for the Kids Kare Fund. In conjunction with the run’s packet pick up, the Kid’s Kare Fund board hosted its first fundraiser in the form of a pasta feed and raffle.
“It was a very successful event that the Kids Kare Fund plans to do annually,” said Norenberg.
In addition to the Red Ore Run, the fund’s mission is supported through the generosity of local organizations and individual donors.
Hosting it’s first fundraiser wasn’t the only recent change. In fact, there have been several.
“Adding parents of children with complex medical needs to the board has been a big catalyst for growth and change,” said Norenberg. “We’ve increased our dollar amount per family per year from $150 to $500. In the past,mostly gas cards were given, but we wanted to help families in a more significant way. We now cover a variety of out of pocket expenses not covered by insurance.”
Increasing the community’s awareness of the fund is another goal. That has begun with a new logo and website.
This logo is a round super hero shield/button icon. A design that exudes safety and comfort.
“There’s no sharp corners. The kids that benefit from the fund see enough sharps that they don’t need extra edges,” said Weaver. “The heart is purple because only the best soldiers, warriors and heroes get awarded the purple heart.”
It was designed by Katie Fredeen, who also recently joined the board.
The new website can be found at kidskarefund.org. It includes smiling photos and information on Harper, Taylor and Amelia.
“We feel it’s important to share stories of some of the children the Kids Kare Fund has helped to show the community the impact the fund is having,” said Weaver. “Also, we feel increasing our social media presence will also help us reach more families.”
The Kid’s Kare Fund Facebook page will feature stories of children helped by the fund. It’s them wanting to show the impact.
“Families of children we’ve helped have told us that the Kids Kare fund has helped ease some of the financial strain of having a child with health issues,” said Weaver.
The board also created a portable banner with pictures of children helped by the fund to display at events and continue to spread awareness. It will be used at events such as at the Fairview Range Health Expo, which they attended earlier this year.
The purpose of spreading awareness is to reach the families who could use the financial aid offered by the fund.
“We are still focused on more growth,” said Norenberg. “We want to reach more families in our community who could benefit from the Kid’s Kare Fund.”
If you know a child who could benefit from the fund, apply at kidskarefund.org.
To donate or have a fundraiser for the Kid’s Kare Fund, contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.