Glenwood-based nonprofit is sweet to sick kids
Although dentists don’t typically recommend that their patients consume sugary treats, one local dentist is happy to bite his tongue for a great cause.
The cause is Kelsey’s Kids, the quarterly beneficiary of Dr. Corey Johnson’s Brighter Smiles: Brighter Futures Program.
Johnson’s program selects a nonprofit organization each quarter to be the recipient of the proceeds of the office’s $99 teeth whitening work. Amber Wissing from Johnson’s office believed that Kelsey’s Kids would be an ideal recipient of the proceeds.
“They applied to our program, and I already knew some of their board members,” Wissing said. “I thought they would be a great cause because they were lesser known then some of the other projects in the area.”
Kelsey’s Kids is a local nonprofit group dedicated to bringing smiles and laughter to seriously ill children across the world.
In 2000, 11-year-old Kelsey Bohman, stricken by leukemia, was recovering from chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. Her mother, Patricia Bohman, was working at a lumberyard at the time. One day on a whim, Pat shot a marshmallow at Kelsey through some PVC pipe that she had in her pocket.
Sixteen years later, Kelsey and her mother are still spreading the same simple joy and laughter they had found in marshmallow launchers with children all across the globe.
Kelsey’s Kids began as an ailing child’s way of spreading joy to others who were suffering like she was. After they discovered how fun the marshmallow launchers were, Kelsey and Pat made more. They handed them out to other children who were on the oncology floor at Denver Children’s while Kelsey was receiving her treatment.
“It was a great way for the kids to have fun and laugh,” said Pat. “But then Kelsey’s doctor asked us to make more because it also worked as a great respiratory device.”
Kelsey and her mother continued to make the marshmallow launchers for children in hospitals all across the country. In 2007, Kelsey’s Kids officially became a nonprofit.
By now, they have manufactured more than 40,000 launchers. The launchers have been sent all across the globe, as far away as Japan. More than 90 percent of children’s hospitals in the United States have received some of Kelsey’s Kids marshmallow launchers.
In addition to the launchers, Kelsey’s Kids also puts together what they call Kelsey’s Krates. These 18-gallon toy buckets are funded by the sale of the launchers and donations. They are filled with toys for individual sick children based on their gender, age and specific interests.
Kelsey’s experiences with cancer and founding Kelsey’s Kids has led her on a path that allows her to help children who face the same difficulties she did as an 11-year-old.
“After my treatment, I knew I really wanted some way to give back to families and patients,” Kelsey said. “My goal was to be in hospitals.”
Kelsey, now 27 years old, has realized this goal. She works as a child life specialist, helping children facing hospital stays to understand what is happening by establishing routines, educating them on hospital equipment and acting as an intermediary between patient and doctor.
Kelsey is also still heavily involved with Kelsey’s Kids.
“I sit in on board meeting and brainstorming sessions.” Kelsey said. “I also accompany my mother and the other board members to fundraisers and events.”
In addition to donating directly to Kelsey’s Kids, Glenwood area residents now have another way to contribute. As a part of Johnson’s program, all proceeds from a $99 custom teeth whitening will go directly to Kelsey’s Kids.
The Kelsey’s Kids quarter runs through the end of June. Those wishing to support the cause can contact Johnson’s office at 970-300-2956 to make an appointment. They can also visit KelseysKids.org to place an order or make a donation.
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