Among the Christmas letters and photos I received this year was a note from my friends, Phil and Katie Kladar of Coeur d'Alene, ID. I witnessed their marriage nearly fifteen years ago when Phil was in medical school and Katie finishing her Master's of Nursing degree at the University of Utah. Their kids, Sarah (sixth grade), Emily (fourth grade), Thomas (second grade), Will (preschool) and Ellie (2 years) are pretty special. It is a tradition in the Kladar family that their 5 children do not receive gifts from their friends on their birthdays. Instead, they use their own God-given gifts of ambition, intelligence, creativity, imagination, and compassion to give back to the world.
Here's a picture of two of the thirteen children who have received life-saving heart surgeries as a result of their fundraising and awareness efforts.
I have spoken with Sarah and her parents, and have a pretty strong impression that she is already displaying the charism of mercy; she has an ability to reach out to people who are suffering with practical acts of compassion that really make a difference. And for everyone (especially among us grown ups) who thinks that they can't do anything to make a difference in the world, the Kladar kids are living proof that that's just not the case - even for little ones. Here's an excerpt from their website, Kids Helping Kids Fix Broken Hearts.
In 2008, the 3 oldest kids decided to create their own charity! It first started after visiting a poor medical clinic in a rural part of Mexico where they learned of children their own ages in desperate need of life-saving heart surgery. The kids then went to work, figuring out what they could do to help. Sarah, age 10 at the time, came up with the name "Kids Helping Kids Fix Broken Hearts". Emily, age 8, used her artistic ability and creativity and designed a logo. Along the way, they decided to print the logo onto dishtowels and have been selling them for $5. Since August of 2008, approximately 4,000 dishtowels have been sold and over $34,000.00 has been raised!! There is at least one dishtowel in all 50 states and in 26 countries! So far, 13 Mexican families have been helped.
$34,000! Incredible! You might say, "Yeah, but their dad's a surgeon. They have some advantages most kids don't have. That's true enough, but the point is, they're using that which God has given them to make a difference already in the world. They have been given much by God, and are giving back more. They are not a "front" for their parent's charity. They are the driving force behind the work. Of course, they have had help setting up the charity as a 501c3, and their parents drive them to different events where they appear and make their appeal. But Phil and Katie are not goading them into the work. The kids are not only been taught well by their parents, they have "caught" Jesus from them!
The charity has now been expanded to help families throughout the United States.
The money raised pays for travel, food and lodging expenses for the parents of children needing heart surgery away from their hometown.
I invite you to visit their website, and read more about this great work. You might even consider purchasing a beautiful dishtowel or two. If you want more information about the program, contact them at