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Books from the heart

The story of the local Indiana charity, Kate’s Kart.

MUNCIE, Ind.--- Life is like a book, full of chapters. For 1992 Ball State graduate Krista Layman, June 27, 2006, marked one of her toughest. A chapter she thought would be one of her happiest.

“My husband Andy and I had a little girl named Kate,” Layman said. “She was born with a heart defect and because of that she had to spend many days in the hospital. Over 180 days we spent with her.”

During those 180 days in the hospital, the Laymans spent the majority of their time doing one thing.

“Because of her frailty and just the number of open-heart surgeries that she had to have, we spent a lot of time reading to her,” Layman said. “There were days when we couldn’t hold her, when she was ventilated, when she was recovering. Books really became the tool that we used to bond with our daughter.”

After 568 days of surgeries, doctors’ visits and fighting, Kate Layman died on January 15, 2008. She was almost one and half years old. Even with the tragedy, her parents were determined that this would not be the end of Kate’s story. They took a page out of Kate’s story and turned to books. Krista and Andy took the money from Kate’s memorial fund and started Kate’s Kart, a Fort Wayne based charity that gives brand new books to kids in the hospital, just like Kate.

“Kate’s Kart is about making an experience in the hospital that could be scary, painful, unknown people, unknown places, unknown procedures, just a little bit more comforting,” Layman said.

Those who work in these hospitals, like Chanelle Losure, a registered pediatrics nurse at Ball Memorial Hospital here in Muncie, couldn’t agree more with Layman’s mission.

“It’s really encouraging and it’s nice to have something to offer the parents and the kids and it helps as a distraction,” Losure said. “With pediatrics they’re usually pretty nervous when they come in. We can show them the book and it helps us build a relationship in that kind of scary environment.” 

The charity now extends to 15 counties across Indiana with 37 carts in 22 hospitals and has distributed over 350,000 new books to children so that Kate’s story doesn’t have a final chapter.

“It just brings back some memories when you walk into a room and you see a child that’s maybe the same age as Kate,” Layman said. “It’s amazing what that book can do for that family in that moment. Those kinds of sad memories are so quickly replaced with the joy of seeing that family bonding. I’m not going to Kate’s dance rehearsal or I’m not taking her to volleyball practice or whatever it may be that she would have loved. I’m here and she’s still here and people don’t get it. She’s here with me doing this.”

Head to kateskart.org for more information on Kate’s story, book drives, donations and volunteer opportunities to help support the cart’s mission. 

Contact Andy Newman with comments at asnewman2@bsu.edu