Katharine's Wish provides comfort to children receiving medical care in Minnesota and Wisconsin
For almost six years, Katharine's Wish has donated over 5,000 new toys, stuffed animals and books to children in hospitals and clinics. These items let children know someone is thinking of them during their difficult time.
Each year, the organization holds a two-week toy drive that allows the community to drop off donated items at more than 20 locations. Due to the generosity of the community, Katherine’s Wish is able to expand the number of medical facilities that receive donations each year. Additionally, the organization created a donor-advised family fund through the Eau Claire Community Foundation to issue grants to hospitals around the country to purchase new toys and books for children.
Katharine's Wish began as a promise kept by 14-year old Katharine Rhoten of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. In January 2008, Rhoten was visiting Disney World with her family when she was suddenly rushed by ambulance from the theme park to the ICU at Children's Hospital in Orlando, Florida where she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and just hours away from going into a diabetic coma.
Rhoten, then 9 years-old, felt the hospital was a scary place, as she underwent treatment. However, the pain of this experience was lessened, because each time Rhoten had a procedure, she was given a stuffed animal to ease the pain and distract her.
As a result, Rhoten promised when she was better that she would help other children who were sick and scared. To this day, despite Rhoten’s physical challenges with type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, she continues to keep her word and be a champion by always thinking of others.