Our Story: "Katharine's Wish" is a promise kept by siblings Katie and Spencer Rhoten of Eau Claire, WI. In January of 2008, Katie was vacationing with her family at Disney World when she was rushed by ambulance to the ICU at Children's Hospital in Orlando, FL. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and mere hours from going into a coma. There were lots of IV's, insulin shots, and finger pokes to stabilize Katie’s blood sugar levels, along with a crash course in learning how to manage a chronic, and potentially life-threatening, disease.
However, the pain of this scary experience was lessened, because each time Katie had a poke or procedure, she was given a stuffed animal or toy from hospital staff to ease the pain and distract her. Katie and Spencer, who were only nine and four-years old at the time, made a pact to help other children who were sick and scared. For over the past decade, they have kept their word. Since 2008, Katharine's Wish has donated over $250,000 in new toys and grants to hospitals providing pediatric care in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico.
Katharine’s Wish has received numerous distinctions, including being named a Daily Point of Light Honoree, recipient of the President's Volunteer Service Award, Distinguished Finalist - Prudential Spirit of Community Award, American Red Cross “Youth Samaritan” Real Heroes Award, Montage Memory Maker Humanitarian Award, Youth Philanthropist of the Year and Peace First Prize.
The mission of the Katharine’s Wish donor-advised fund, which is held through the Eau Claire Community Foundation, is to provide comfort to children receiving medical care, whether infants or teenagers, through new toys, stuffed animals, books, or financial grants.
We would like to thank the many people who’ve contributed to our charity’s success over the years; kids just like Katie and Spencer; elementary, middle school, high school and even college-aged students, business owners, community friends, and complete strangers with generous hearts. Thank you for supporting; “The Heart of Healing – One Smile at a Time.”