KINLEY ELROD IS OUR HOMETOWN HERO!
In celebration of the new Magic Tree House book, Hurricane Heroes in Texas, we launched a search for hometown heroes across the country. The contest ended on July 15th, and Kinley is our winner! She is from Corydon, Indiana and her mom Danielle Barley nominated her with a beautiful essay outlining her achievements and her dedicated work with Norton Children’s Hospital.
I would like to tell you about a courageous, and caring superhero. Her name is Mekinley, but we call her Kinley. Little did we know, not only would she change our lives, but she would touch so many more. Kinley was born with a very rare medical condition, only 3 per million newborns are diagnosed each year, Panhypopituitarism, and Adrenal Insufficiency.
Norton Children’s Hospital, has been a continuous revolving door since birth. Any, type of illness and or injury can lead to an adrenal crisis and can be potentially life threatening. Even though her journey has been a rollercoaster ride, she looks on the bright side and never loses her infectious smile.
Kinley writes stories, and poems about the hospital life. In 2014, A superhero poem she wrote got noticed, and she was invited to read her poem at a hospital event. “Some superheroes wear capes, some superheroes can fly, but my type of superheroes wear scrubs, and white jackets.” On the way home from the event, Kinley asked if she could make a few homemade pillows for the children that are hospitalized. 75 pillows were delivered with personal cards the next month. This little project lit a fire, and that’s when Kinley’s Helping Hands came to life.
The first ever toy drive carnival came together on June 20th, 2015. Since then the event has snowballed, from making a few hundred dollars to making thousands. Kinley pounds the ground in her community gathering donations, getting others to volunteer for her annual carnival. Hanging flyers and speaking about why it is important to give back.
Kinley has donated an abundance of new toys and raised over $60,000 for Norton Children’s Hospital! Kinley also partnered up with our local community foundation, Harrison County Community Foundation, to create a program called The Patient Assistance Fund. This fund provides parents financial assistance while their child is hospitalized at Norton Children’s Hospital.
Not only does, Kinley think of the kids who are admitted into the hospital, she also thinks of the parents. She has held two parent care package drives. These drives collect hygiene items, books, puzzles, snacks, anything that would help a parent during this time. These items are placed into a duffle bag and delivered to any parent in need.
Kinley’s Kuddle Bears, is another program Kinley started. These pom-pom bears are homemade, comes with an introduction letter, and birth certificate. Bears are shipped across the country free of charge, just to brighten a child’s day. She believed something small can go a long way. Through these bears, Kinley came across a special little boy. This little boy was only five years old and had terminal cancer. They became the best of friends. This eight-month friendship was special. Kinley granted TWO bucket list wishes for him. A power wheels four- wheeler, and an Xbox. Sadly, he lost his battle that November.
Kinley was honored with having a playroom named after her on the very floor she is often admitted on. Her new goal is to raise $30,000 to renovate this room and another playroom on the next floor. With these renovations, many local children in her community will have the opportunity to use.
What makes Kinley a hometown hero? She inspires, others by the mountains she moves. At a very young age she has accomplished so much. Her actions show that no matter where the road has lead you, or the obstacles that come your way, your age or even your disability you can make a difference!
I believe when a child, has endured life changing events like Kinley has, they see the world in a different light. Kinley has a such caring soul. She knows the ins and outs of the hospital, she knows that it’s going to hurt, and how scary it can be. All, she wanted to do was to put one smile, on one child’s face. She accomplished that mission, above and beyond.