By Katie Stagliano
Other things may change us, but we start and end with the family. -- Anthony Brandt
My mom and I dashed through the Charleston, South Carolina, airport, racing to clear security to catch our flight to New York. The purpose of the trip: I would be receiving the Hasbro Community Action Hero Award along with five other amazing kids. Just as we made it past security, my mom’s phone started chiming.
She pulled the phone out of her large red purse, and messages start streaming on the screen showing pictures of my 10-year-old brother, John Michael, getting his head shaved. He was showing his support of cancer patients and most importantly, showing his support of his friend Chase, who has battled neuroblastoma. Tears started rolling down my mom’s cheeks. I knew she wanted more than anything to be there for him, to cheer him on, and to show him how proud she was of him -- and so did I.
Minutes later, as we arrived at the gate, she received a call from John Michael telling her how Chase, his 9-year-old friend and cancer survivor, did the honors. Hearing his voice made the tears flow harder. My incredibly shy brother got up in front of our whole school to shave his head. He made a choice to lose his hair because his friend never had that choice. These moments happen more and more often now. This is just one example of the sacrifices my family makes to grow the dream that is Katie’s Krops.
Katie’s Krops has truly changed my life. It has also completely transformed my family. My parents once had different career paths. Now my mom is president and chairman of the board of Katie’s Krops, and my dad has selected a job that allows him to work from home to accommodate our busy schedule.
Once, we parked cars in our garage. Today it’s the Katie’s Krops warehouse where we park tillers, wheelbarrows, and dinner supplies. Years ago, our backyard had flowers and shrubs. Now cucumber vines trail up the windows in back of our home as squash, peppers, and eggplant fill our garden beds.
My family’s dedication to this cause has impacted us in so many ways. Financially, there are the struggles we face to keep the dream growing, to keep our family stable. I can see my dad’s stress as he tries to find the funds to pay all of the bills. Does dreaming of ending hunger put food on our table or a roof over our head? No, but it’s a sacrifice we’re willing to make.
We know how blessed we are. We see the struggles other families face, and ours pale in comparison. Emotionally, I know how hard it is for my mom to say goodbye to my little brother and dad every time we step on a plane to grow the dream, to meet a potential sponsor, to give a speech, to further the mission of Katie’s Krops. I know she doesn’t sleep the night before we leave, her nerves getting the best of her, but she gets on that plane every time.
My family makes these sacrifices because there are people all across the country going to bed hungry. Kids who can’t concentrate at school because they are suffering from hunger. My parents and brother make sacrifices because they want to make sure that as many people as possible have a healthy, fresh meal when they need it most.
Going on a family vacation hasn’t happened in years -- that dream trip to Venice, Italy, which my brother has been saving for since he was seven years old will take many, many more years and a ton more pennies. Our garage may never see a car again. My mom may not be there to cheer my brother on at every soccer game or help him study for his big science test.
The people who benefit from Katie’s Krops have become our friends, our extended family. We have shared holidays with them, and we have been there for their most difficult challenges. My parents see the impact we kids are having on hunger across the country. My family wants to make a difference in our community, in our state, in our country, and in the world.
I know I couldn’t do any of this without their support. They are the most incredible and supportive people I know. Together, I know we can make a huge difference in the world.
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