How exciting today to receive an email from a company in Illinois that found Passion 4 K.I.D.S. online and wants to “adopt” several of the Midwestern children we are honored to serve for the holidays – blessing them with gifts on their “wish” list!

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This is an area that we desperately need help in as with so many children in our charity (many more than are listed on our website), it is financially impossible for us to provide gifts for all of them and in many cases, without our help they will not receive anything at all for the holidays. So this comes as a joyful surprise today!

If you know of any group or company that might want to do the same, please have them reach out to us at info@passion4kids.org, and we can provide them with details. We will be happy to provide them with a tax receipt as well.

And, as always, please make a difference in the life of a child today.

Making a difference for children in need,
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Linda Van Kessler, Co-Founder, Passion 4 K.I.D.S.

 

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We were honored to have the founder of Children’s Miracle Network, Joe Lake, at our home for lunch to discuss Passion 4 K.I.D.S. He has become a dear friend and mentor who has done great work for children in need.

And, as always, please make a difference in the life of a child today.

Making a difference for children in need,
blue-signature-linda

 

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Linda Van Kessler, Co-Founder, Passion 4 K.I.D.S.

 

181097_10200365513245544_1374870644_nOne of my greatest joys is when one of “our” families sees a need in one of “our” other families and reaches out to help. That just blows me away. Each of our families is suffering on a deep level, yet because of and in spite of that pain, they are the first ones to reach out to one of our other hurting families with support, a meal, helping them move, offering to babysit, and the list goes on and on.

The strength these families show through their suffering is something that never ceases to amaze me. I have often marveled at the incredible grace, joy, resilience, compassion and humility the parents of “our” kids model on a daily basis. They are not consumed with anger, self-pity or asking why. They have learned how to channel their emotions in a positive way so their suffering is not in vain.7

As a parent and grandparent, I can think of NO greater heartache than watching your child suffer and feeling helpless to make it end. Yet, these families NEVER give up fighting to make things better for their child. I have been so blessed to be in the presence of these servants, and have learned so much from each of them. What a gift to be able to take your suffering and bless someone else because of it.

And, as always, please make a difference in the life of a child today.

Making a difference for children in need,
blue-signature-linda

 

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Linda Van Kessler, Co-Founder, Passion 4 K.I.D.S.

 

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How fun to attend the birthday party of one of “our” superstar kids!  Taisei turned 9 years old and continues to amaze with his progress.  Since falling out of a booster seat at age 8 months which left him with no control of his body, unable to walk, talk, hold his head up, etc. Taisei has made slow but steady progress in being able to sit up, communicate minimally, laugh, interact with his family a bit, eat and do other activities that we so often take for granted.  Each small triumph represents a major milestone for his parents who work with him relentlessly every day in several hour strenuous routines to try to move him forward.  One of Taisei’s greatest blessings is the strength, undying optimism and fortitude of his terrific parents who refuse to give up on his ability to improve.

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Many times we sit with these families in moments of sadness so when we get an opportunity to celebrate at a birthday party filled with laughing children and fun, it is such a happy time for all of us.  One of the highlights was when Taisei’s dad stood him up and held onto him in an enclosed wind tunnel.  As Taisei’s hair blew and the wind caught his face, he threw his head back and laughed in glee – and for a moment, even a fleeting one, he could just be a kid.  There was no disability in this moment.

As the candles were blown out on his birthday cake, my wish was for him to enjoy many more special moments with his mom and dad – just being a kid.

And, as always, please make a difference in the life of a child today.

Making a difference for children in need,
blue-signature-linda

 

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Linda Van Kessler, Co-Founder, Passion 4 K.I.D.S.

 

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Two of our awesome Passion 4 K.I.D.S. moms underwent very serious surgery last week on the same day. These moms spend every day caring for their families which include a child with severe disabilities. Although they were suffering the ravages of breast cancer surgery and painful thyroid surgery, neither one asked for any help. We decided to surprise them by seeing if any of our Passion 4 K.I.D.S. supporters would either make a meal for them or have one delivered. Within a few minutes, we had 4 people step up and volunteer. So over the weekend each family received a meal on Saturday and one on Sunday.

This is what our Passion 4 K.I.D.S. community is all about – each one of us pitching in whatever we can whenever we can to help another one of us who is struggling. Both moms were simply overjoyed that total strangers would take time in their busy lives to provide their families with a wonderful meal so there was one less thing they had to worry about.

We are so proud and grateful for this spirit of giving in our supporters, not just financially but in any way needed.

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And, as always, please make a difference in the life of a child today.

Making a difference for children in need,
blue-signature-linda

 

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Linda Van Kessler, Co-Founder, Passion 4 K.I.D.S.

 

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IMG_0507Caleb is an awesome 13-year-old who has been given a heartbreaking challenge in life.  A few years ago he was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy Duchenne’s, which is a very aggressive and terminal form of MD.  In the few years we have known him, we have seen him go from walking with a slightly uneven gait to using a cane and now to being wheelchair bound.  In a few weeks he will undergo major surgery to insert a rod in his spine as his bones are caving in.  This will prevent him from ever bending again or living life the way he has been used to.  He is in a lot of pain and this surgery will hopefully allow his respiratory system to function in an easier manner.

IMG_0511An anonymous donor stepped forward and asked us what would put a smile on Caleb’s face as he sinks into depression, fear and sadness.  Caleb’s answer, “I’ve never been to a San Diego Chargers’ football game”.  So through the kindness of one of our awesome supporters, Caleb and a few family members were treated to a wonderful outing at the game.  Caleb’s mom was ecstatic to see a smile on his face and have some of his old excitement return.

Many people think, unfortunately, that to help others and really make a difference you need to give a lot of money.  That is totally not true, according to every family we are blessed to work with.  Many times it is the small things (a meal delivered, tickets to a football game, new clothes, a text or phone call, etc.) that literally help them get through another day.  I encourage each one of you to seek out a child that is in need and do something special for them or their family. Or, IMG_0509choose one of our Passion 4 K.I.D.S. children to help.  As the saying goes, “it’s the thought that counts.”  They are struggling every day and just to realize someone they may not even know is thinking about them and cares enough to do something special for them can make all the difference – not only for them but also for you.

It’s not about what you give – it’s the fact THAT you care enough to give!  Check out some of our precious little ones you might want to surprise with something (www.passion4kids.org/meet.html ).  Simply choose a child, email me at linda@passion4kids.org  and we can arrange for you to bless them.  What a gift not only for them, but also for yourself!

 

Making a difference for children in need,
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Linda Van Kessler, Founder, Passion 4 K.I.D.S.

 

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How great it was to be able to take 50 children in our charity to get two pairs of new shoes for school! Everyone arrived excited and chattering away. In an effort to make it even more special, the Famous Footwear store in Encinitas, CA opened an hour early to allow their little guests to have the store all to themselves.

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But as great as getting new shoes was, this day was about far more. Most of “our” kids who came stand out in their school for reasons beyond their control – a physical disability, a life-threatening illness, etc. Most of their families are in deep financial difficulty because of their child’s challenge and wouldn’t be able to afford new shoes or clothes for the start of the new school year so it was our desire to make sure each child blended in as much as possible with their classmates during those critical first days of the school year.

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Our hope was that these shoes would make them feel special, boost their self-esteem and let them know with each step they take that they are loved.

Your gifts make moments like this possible, and we are so grateful.

Making a difference for children in need,
blue-signature-linda

 

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Linda Van Kessler, Founder, Passion 4 K.I.D.S.

 

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We received a beautiful email from a mom who told us her young daughter, Haley, had received gifts of cash for her recent birthday. Haley wanted to find a young girl about her age that she could shower with love, using her birthday cash. They found Passion 4 K.I.D.S. and wondered if we had that “special” girl for Haley to bless.  And yes we did!  “Our” very own Abbey who has special needs herself and a very challenging home environment to deal with on a daily basis.

Haley was excited and sent us gift cards for Abbey.  Abbey was thrilled that someone she didn’t even know would do this for her as she was desperate for new school clothes and other essentials.  So yesterday was the day – we took Abbey shopping for her new wardrobe and watched her eyes light up with each selection.  We steered her to the “sale” section so the money would go farther for her and soon the shopping cart was filled with Abbey’s treasures.

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It always just blows me away when a child willingly wants to help another child, particularly one they never met.  Clearly something is working in that home, and we want to commend Haley for being so sensitive to the needs of others  at such a young age, and her family for showing her that giving is one of life’s greatest blessings to both the giver and the receiver.

May I encourage you to pass that spirit on to the children in your life?

And, as always, please make a difference in the life of a child today.

Making a difference for children in need,
blue-signature-linda

 

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Linda Van Kessler, Founder, Passion 4 K.I.D.S.

 

 

We were so excited to cheer on “our” very own Patrick Ivison who represented the US in the 2015 ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championship where physically challenged athletes from 18 countries competed.  Patrick came in 5th in the world. IMG_0438

Cheering him on as well with a “huge” smile on her face as always was his mom, Jennifer. 

Despite being a single mom for over 20 years and raising two exceptional children, going to school on the side to become a pediatric nurse to give back to those who helped Patrick over the years, dealing with the devastating injury to her son at age 1 when a driver backed up over him on the sidewalk paralyzing him for life, dealing with cancer several years ago, Jennifer has never let her circumstances dictate her happiness or that of her children.  This photo was taken on Sunday celebrating Patrick, and on Monday Jennifer let the world know she was undergoing a mastectomy that morning for a very aggressive form of breast cancer.

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Why, you may ask, does such a kind, generous, loving, amazing lady like this suffer so much in her life?   No one knows that answer but God, and Jennifer will be the first to tell you that if we don’t question God for why He blesses us so much even when we don’t deserve it, we shouldn’t question Him when He tests us.

I share this with you today to uplift you with whatever you may be dealing with.  Join me in praying for this brave mom!

And, as always, please make a difference in the life of a child today.

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Linda Van Kessler, Founder, Passion 4 K.I.D.S.

 

 

Hard to believe it’s already Memorial Day weekend.  Most Americans have a three-day weekend, go to the beach, BBQ and kick back.  But is this what our forefathers really only intended for it to be when they created this national holiday?

A time to relax or be with family can never be a bad thing.  But I hope you will stop this weekend and remember those who have given their lives for our freedom and those who are away from those they love so that we can enjoy this holiday in peace.  And in particular, I hope you will remember the children who have lost a parent due to the ravages of war and hate;  children who are still too young and blissfully unaware to see the bad in the world or understand how human beings can be filled with so much rage that they can turn weapons on each other; children who just want to cuddle and play with their moms and dads and be a true family.

So celebrate and enjoy but also remember!