“You can’t give premature babies candy for Halloween because they have no teeth. So let’s help their eyes.”

The Backstory

profile 01-1Shortly after my good great friend Andre passed away in 2011 due to heart disease, his nephew Kael Kennedy raised $2,000 for the Chalmers Regional Hospital. Why? To improve the family rooms in the ICU. How? By reading 100 books and asking for a donation of 25 cents per completed story.

Instead of a quarter per title, Kael averaged $20 for each book. With assistance from his aunt Stacey (Andre’s wife), he catalogued the titles and his opinions of each on a blog (Kael’s Book Challenge).

The New Goal

This month, Kael’s Grade 5 teacher at Park Street Elementary asked each student to set a personal, private goal. So, Kael initiated a meeting with Tammy Wood, the Executive Director of the Chalmers Regional Hospital Foundation, to find out how he could again assist the organization. The result: Kael will be helping premature babies.

The Camera

The Chalmers Foundation will soon be raising funds for the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Specifically, they need an ophthalmic camera called RetCam. Physicians use it to detect a common condition amongst premature children ­– retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). This can affect vision and cause blindness, if undetected and untreated.

Kael met one of the premature babies during his hospital visit. “He was about this long,” he says, moving his fingers a ruler’s length apart. “He was in a room full of incubators. And one of the babies was crying. I’m going to help them.”

The Plan(s)

To meet his objective of $100, the ten-year-old completed a PowerPoint that he posted on YouTube to solicit funds. Also, he’s giving a lollipop and donation flyer he created (with Aunt Stacey) to each home on his trick-or-treating route this Halloween. Kael also has some fundraising ideas that he’s clearing with his principal.

To additionally help Kael promote his goal, he and I revisited the method that started his community support: literacy.

As we’re approaching Halloween, I asked Kael to tell me about some really fun and/or spooky books he would recommend to friends and younger children. We’ll put his recommendations online this week.

• • •

i'm going to eat you (cover)I’m Going to Eat You

Written by Matt Mitter

Illustrated by Jimmy Pickering

Kael dug out some books from his library. I’m Going to Eat You is an older one for him but he was very excited to show this one first.

In this book full of pop-up flaps revealing Halloween-type spooks, a young boy tries to figure out who woke him up by saying, “When I get you, I’m going to eat you!”

Why would you recommend this book to a friend?

This book’s in 3D [a pop-up]! It’s maybe good for Grade 1.

What is your favourite part?

Someone says they’re going to eat him and every page he looks at all the monsters – but those don’t scare him. But his sister eating the last cookie scares him!

To support Kael’s fundraiser, visit the Chalmers’ donation page and add “Halloween Treat for Preemies” in the message box so that your money helps to purchase the RetCam.

Written by Peter Cullen

Peter Cullen loves to teach children. He specializes in literacy (elementary level) and has a lot of fun creating games and activities for class lessons. He also writes, manages social media accounts and announces roller derby games.

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