Christmas is the season for giving, and that is exactly what eight-year-old Kaitlin Sue Otteman had in mind when she started a new pediatrics fund at McLaren–Central Michigan in December 2011. Kaitlin, a 3rd grader at Pullen Elementary School in Mt. Pleasant, started the Kaitlin Kares Pediatric "Fun" Fund using more than $400 in profits from her craft store, which she founded in August 2011. Money in the fund was used to purchase Christmas gifts for sick children who were in the hospital over the holidays.
"It’s the right thing to do," the young entrepreneur said when asked why she decided to start the fund at McLaren–Central Michigan.
Inspired by the Disney television show "The Possibility Shop", Kaitlin started her own craft store in late August, and within a month had made $57.19 through the sale of items she creates using paper, popsicle sticks, wooden spools, yarn, and markers. Kaitlin’s crafts range in price from five cents to one dollar, with the majority costing between 25 and 50 cents.
Kaitlin’s parents, Tim and Marcie, both Central Michigan University employees and active members in the community, say it’s likely the idea to give to McLaren–Central Michigan came from observing her family’s involvement with the hospital through the years. Kaitlin is the third generation of the Otteman family to support McLaren–Central Michigan.
In 1995 the Otteman family, including Tim and his mother Suzi, organized the inaugural Amy Otteman Memorial Classic charity golf outing, a tribute to Tim’s sister Amy, a former oncology nurse at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo who died of a stroke at age 24. The first outing benefited nurse education programs at both Bronson and McLaren–Central Michigan.
The annual event continued to grow and benefit additional causes for 15 years. In total, $38,000 in scholarships was given to Mt. Pleasant High School seniors and another $100,000 supported nurse education programs at McLaren–Central Michigan. Funds raised during the 2008 and 2009 events were used to start the Amy Otteman Nurse Education Endowment Fund, which assists McLaren–Central Michigan nurses in continuing education to this day.
"I think Katie got the idea to give to McLaren–Central Michigan because she’s seen her family so involved with the hospital over the years, but I also believe she was just born with a giving spirit," Tim said. "She thought how awful it would be for a kid her age to be in the hospital at Christmastime, maybe with no presents, and that’s how the fund was born. It was all her idea."
In addition to a cash donation to begin her fund, Katie and her parents went shopping to handpick gifts to be given out. Each was specially wrapped and featured a personal note from Katie. Nurses working the pediatric unit over the holiday delivered the gifts, much to the delight of our young patients. A few of the presents even made their way to the Emergency Department to help cheer up the children who found themselves in need of emergency care during the holidays.
"Katie is a kind and generous kid," said Cindy Hales, VP, Resource Development. "Given the example set by the rest of the family, it’s not surprising. I think it’s in her DNA."
To contribute to the Kaitlin Kares Pediatric "Fun" Fund, contact the McLaren–Central Michigan Hospital Foundation office at (989) 772-6858. To contribute to the Amy Otteman Nurse Education Endowment Fund, contact the Mt. Pleasant Area Community Foundation at (989) 773-7322.