The Story of Kate & Kate’s Kart

While Kate’s life was very short in terms of years, her struggle and impact has positively touched the lives of thousands of hospitalized children in Northeast Indiana and continues to do so through Kate’s Kart, a non-profit started by her family aimed at providing free books to children while they fight their illness while hospitalized. Looking at books was something Kate enjoyed, and something that continues to honor her memory while helping hospitalized children forget about their own struggles in a good book, even if it’s just an afternoon. This is our story. Learn about Kate’s fight, and the eventual creation of Kate’s Kart that has help so many children.

Kate Is Born
June 26, 2006

Katherine Anne enters the world at 7lbs 10oz....all is good...Apgar scores are 9. All the family meets Kate. Doctor gives good report. Kate has hip dysphasia, but it can be fixed with a soft cast.

June 27, 2006

6 a.m.
Nurse comes in to tell us that Kate's color is bad, her oxygen levels are low and they can't get them up. Kate is sent to Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and gets an echocardiogram. They discover a serious heart defect, start her on medicine and intubate her.

10 a.m.
We learn that she is missing her pulmonary artery. There are 3 tiny collateral arteries that God miraculously gave her, but those don't supply enough blood. Surgery is imminent.

1 p.m.
Kate is rushed by ambulance to St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis. After getting discharged in less than 24 hours after delivery, we drive the 2 hours south to Indy.

5 p.m.
We meet with a cardiologist in Indy...he explains her situation and tells us he needs to do a heart catheterization in order to determine the next steps. Her official diagnosis: Tetralogy of Fallot with Pulmonary Atresia. The cardiologist is optimistic and tells us after a couple surgeries, she will lead a normal life.

Mid-July 2006

We find out that Kate's heart condition is due to a genetic disorder. Kate has a deletion in her 22nd chromosome. The disorder goes by several names: DiGeorge, VCFS or just 22q. We are devastated.   

September 28 - October 18, 2006

Kate has her 1st heart surgery in Indy at the age of 3 months. All goes well with the surgery and the surgeon was able to unifocalize her 3 collateral arteries and bring them together into a shunt. Kate spends 3 weeks in the Intensive Care Unit at St. Vincent's. She developed a lung infection and has a hard time coming off the respirator...she failed after the 1st attempt a week after her surgery. They do a CT scan to check for stroke but they find her brain is "abnormal." More devastation. The MRI shows that she has Polymicrogyria and the right side of her brain is not as developed as her left.

March-June, 2007

Kate begins to blossom! Feedings get much easier. She is consistently gaining weight. She begins to sleep for more than 3 hours at a time. Therapy sessions are working and she learns to roll, sit and utilize both hands. The weather gets better, flu season is over and we can go outside! YEAH!

July 25, 2007

Kate has her 2nd open heart surgery at the age of 13 months...her "final" repair. The surgeon puts in an RV to PA conduit and closes the VSD. Two days later they discover that there is a residual VSD. They do an emergency heart catheterization and the cardiologist and surgeon agree that she should be able to come off the vent and it shouldn't cause a problem.   

August 1, 2007

Kate has her 3rd open heart surgery in attempt to close her residual VSD. 

August 21, 2007

Kate is throwing up a ton the 3 days we have been home and is not eating anything. We take her to our local hospital where they decide to fly her by helicopter back to Indianapolis. The minute the nurse takes her off my lap in Indy...she arrests. She is without a heartbeat for 20 minutes while the doctors attempt to get a central line placed. The line finally gets placed...and Kate responds to the epinephrine and her heart begins pumping again. She spends another 25 days hospitalized as they continue to adjust her meds.

October 24, 2007

We go to University of Michigan at Ann Arbor for a consult, echo and heart catheterization. The team there is optimistic about condition...but definitely feel that surgery is necessary to repair the VSD, repair her leaking tricuspid valve and replace her leaking conduit. Plus...the docs highly recommend she gets a g-tube to both get her calories and strength prior to surgery and allow for a quicker recovery. Surgery gets set for November 27. We leave U. of M. after 3 nights encouraged and optimistic about Kate's heart.   

November 9, 2007

We're back in Indy for her g-tube placement. In addition, the surgeon does the Nissan Procedure to help control her reflux. During surgery, the surgeon found and repaired a hiatal hernia and dilated her constricted esophagus.   

December 13, 2007

Finally...the day is here and Kate goes back for surgery to repair the VSD, repair the tricuspid valve and replace the conduit. The surgery takes 5-6 hours and the surgeon, Dr. Bove is optimistic afterwards. He is aware of a small VSD he could not assess...but everything else looks great. We see her and we think she looks great!

December 17, 2007

Kate goes to the heart catheterization lab...and they determine that nothing else can be done...and the pressures still remain high. There is a chance she might improve...but her pulmonary arteries are just too small to manage all the blood flow from the heart. Their goal...get her off the breathing tube.

January 14-15, 2008

After countless talks with many cardiac docs we are assured that there is nothing more medically that can be done for Kate's heart. After many more talks with family, our pastor, each other and God...we decide to not pursue any further interventions. We place her in God's hands...and do all that we (and the medical team) can to keep her comfortable.

Kate drinks a bottle of milk, rolls over and peacefully passes in her mother’s arms. No more tubes, no more more more more more pain! Kate is laid to rest in Portland, Indiana. Her body buried...her spirit living forever in eternity with her Heavenly Father. “Kate blessed our lives for 568 wonderful days.

Kate's Kart Is Born
February - May 2008

Kate’s family decides to utilize their memorial money and start a rolling book kart at a local hospital.  This was due to Kate’s love of books.    With the help of family and friends, a name was given, a logo designed and plans were underway to collect books.

At the age of 3, Kate’s older brother helps to design the logo, using a computer to place the hearts on the tree.

May 2008

The first official event was held in conjunction with Magic 95.1 “Little Give” Contestants Jenny Teders and Shannon McClure took on the challenge with the hopes of filling a U-haul full of new children’s books for the Layman family to put on their book cart.  The event was a huge success, and the “Fill The U-Haul” book drive took in over 5,500 brand new books, plus over $3,000 in monetary donations, totaling over $31,000!  Kate’s Kart was off and rolling!

June 2008

The first Kate’s Kart rolled through the halls of Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on June 4, 2008. 

June 2009

Kate’s Kart hosts it’s 1st annual Ice Cream Social.  With the help of sponsors, ice cream, games, and entertainment are provided for free to the community.

October 2009

10,000th book was handed out to an oncology patient at Lutheran Hospital.    

December 2011

Kate’s Kart has grown to service 16 Northeast Indiana hospitals.

July 2013

Due to our tremendous growth over the last 5 years, we have outgrown our book storage sheds and moved into an office/storage facility with over 3 times the amount of space.   

August 2014

Once again outgrowing our space, the Kate’s Kart office/storage facility is moved into another new space.  This colorful new space is 3 times the size of our last space and offers a store front space in Leo Crossing.  The space allows for meetings, field trips and lots of storage.

May 2015

Kate’s Kart hands out it’s 100,000th book. Dylan, a frequent patient is the lucky recipient of this very special and ceremonial book.

August 2015

Through a generous donation from Parkview Health and Glenbrook Dodge, Kate’s Kart gets a brand new cargo van. It is wrapped with our signature color, pink and includes our logo. This is a tremendous blessing as many miles are driven delivering books to all the hospitals.

December 2015

Kate’s Kart is chosen as one of the recipients of the WOWO Penny Pitch. Through a community radio-a-thon, Kate’s Kart is awarded almost $72,000 to aid in the addition of new karts.

October 2016

The overwhelming growth, along with the need for the Director to be in the community sharing our story results in the need to add additional staff.  An administrative Assistant is hired.  Welcome Cheryl!

November 2016

Kates’s Kart works with local digital marketing company, LYFT Digital to launch a new interactive website and create a promotional video.

February 2017

With the help of hospital staff and Kate's Kart volunteers, the 150,000th book was given to a hospitalized child.

Summer 2017

Karts added to IU Health Blackford and Parkview Regional Medical Center Clinic bringing our total to 27 karts in 18 hospitals!


Kate's Kart begins our 10th year!

January 2018

Congressman Jim Banks honors Kate's Kart and the Layman family on the House Floor in Washington DC.

July 2019

We gifted our 250,000th book to Donna, a lucky recepient at PRMC.

August 2020

In response to the COVID19 Pandemic, Kate's Kart transitions to an Ice Cream Social...Distance and partners with 12 locally owned ice cream shops.  The community rallies and supports Kate's Kart, all while enjoying ice cream at their favorite spot.

January 2021

Kate's Kart added our 30th Kart in the PRMC Outpatient Surgery Center

September 2021

Kate's Kart becomes an  accredited business by the Better Business Bureau

December 2021

Kate's Kart is awarded the 2021 BBB Torch Award for being a charity of integrity

BBB Torch Award
December 29, 2021

To end the year we added a Kart to the new Lutheran Downtown Hospital.

February 2022

Here we grow again with our 32nd Kart added to the Lutheran Statewood ER!

April 2022

Kate's Kart added our 33rd and 34th Karts at Marion Health on the Pediatric Floor and the ER.  Excited to continue our mission to 21 hospitals!

June 2022

We celebrated our 14th Annual Ice Cream Social in partnership with 21 locally owned Ice Cream Shops in 13 counties around Northeast Indiana.

July 2022

Another milestone!  With the help of hospital staff and Kate's Kart volunteers, the 350,000th book was given to a hospitalized child.

November 2022

We added our 37th Kart at Parkview Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Clinic. We are so thankful to provide a needed distraction to children battling cancer.

December 2022

To sustain the continued growth of Kate's Kart, a Director of Operations is hired. Welcome Grace!

December 2022

Kate's Kart post goes viral & we receive over 1,700 new books from our Amazon Wishlist. Due to a high number of RSV & flu cases, books were going fast in the ER's, leaving us with empty Karts. We're so thankful our community came together to meet this need! 

June 2023

Kate’s Kart celebrates it's 15th Annual Ice Cream Social! With 24 partnering ice cream shops across Northeast Indiana, thousands came out to share ice cream, meet volunteers, and support the mission of Kate's Kart. In total, $108,775.68 was raised, our most successful Ice Cream Social yet!

June 2023

Kate's Kart celebrates 15 years of providing hospitalized children with a comforting diversion through the gift of a new book!

September 2023

The 400,000th book was given to 2-year-old Jemma, at Lutheran Children's Hospital. 

September 2023

Kate's Kart celebrates 15 years through it's first ever LEGO Day. This special run of the Kart, made possible by the Don Wood Foundation, gifted pediatric patients at Parkview, Lutheran, and Dupont Hospitals a LEGO set alongside the gift of a new book. 

September 2023

We added our 37th* Kart at Parkview Health Premier Surgery.  This unit serves pediatric patients in need of oral and other plastic surgeries due to a wide range of traumas. We’re excited to see the joy and comfort this Kart brings to patients.

*This month we also said goodbye to the Kart housed at IU Health Blackford Hospital as the hospital closed its emergency room and ended inpatient care services. We wish the staff the very best!

October 2023

Kart #38 finds its home at the new Parkview Southwest Outpatient Center where it will bring lots of smiles and comfort to kids in the ER.

November 2023

Santa Claus is coming to town...and the Kate's Kart Office, too! Not only did Santa visit the office for our Giving Tuesday event, but hundreds joined us online for a day of giving. In just ONE day, our community rallied around us and gave over $20,000 to Kate's Kart. We are so grateful for another successful Giving Tuesday! 

December 2023

Kate's Kart goes global...almost! We are excited to add our very first Karts in Ohio at Parkview Montpelier and Parkview Bryan Hospitals. Housed in the ERs, these Karts will bring lots of joy to kids in need of a smile. 

January 2024

Kate's Kart launches it's County Champion Team! Comprised of 17 passionate volunteers, this team representing each of the outlying counties we serve is responsible for keeping their county's Kart clean, organized, and stocked, and also helping share the mission of Kate's Kart within their community. Welcome, County Champions!

January 2024

Kart #41 is here! Housed in the Med/Surg unit in the newly-renovated Parkview Kosciusko Hospital in Warsaw, we are excited to see the positive impact these new books will have on the kids staying on this unit.

April 2024

Our fleet of vans expands as we purchase a second and bigger delivery van! Plus, both vans received a fresh wrap thanks to our friends at Ink Works. Keep an eye out for us delivering new books to 25 Northeast Indiana and Northwest Ohio hospitals in our new vans. 

May 2024

Kate's Kart once again expands on the Parkview Regional Medical Center, with Kart #42 joining us on the Pediatric Outpatient Infusions Unit! These books will bring comfort, joy, and distraction to these kids, plus volunteers will be hand-delivering the books three times a week. 

And the story continues...check back often to see us grow!