“Life in the hospital is hard,” Krista Layman, founder of Kate’s Kart, said. “Not being able to hold your child, waiting for them to wake up or come out of surgery.”
In 2006, Krista and her husband, Andy, welcomed a little girl, Kate. Sadly, their daughter had a heart defect and passed away in 2008. “We were left thinking how do we keep her memory alive? How do we go on? How do we make other people’s lives better because of Kate–leave a legacy for her?”
For 30 days, Krista couldn’t hold Kate, then three months old, and read to her often. Because books were such a powerful tool for healing for their family, the Laymans decided to start Kate’s Kart, a program that put donated books in the hands of hospitalized children.
“We started Kate’s Kart in 2008. The community rallied around us–family, friends and strangers. Within three years, we were at 10 hospitals,” Krista said. The program is now in more than 20 hospitals and throughout the entire Parkview Health system. “We have 40 karts, just waiting to bring a smile to a hospitalized child.”
Krista explained that books are a vehicle for comforting diversion. Rather than pain, or procedures or the people all around them that they don’t know, they can turn a page and be transported to a magical land or alongside their favorite characters.
Now, 15 years after the initial idea, it’s incredible to step back and see the success of this book donation program. “The success of Kate’s Kart means that my baby girl’s life has a purpose and there’s a legacy and she hasn’t been forgotten. People often ask how many kids you have. I always say, ‘I have two healthy boys, but let me tell you the story of Kate and how the community of northeast Indiana rallied together with volunteers, donors and hospital staff, who are part of it and part of making the hospital experience a little brighter.’ It just makes my heart happy.”