My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia celebrates Christmas in July by raising money for charity. Get to know Kristin, her beneficiary and her answers to our questions about the virtues of generosity and compassion with this post from the Balsam Hill blog.
Kristin Salazar lives a simple but fabulous family life in San Diego with three adorable boys, two lovely dogs and a loving husband. With a love for all things DIY, Kristin decided to set up a place where she can share colorful tidbits of their suburban life and show others how they can achieve the same on a small budget. My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia is her online soapbox for all ideas regarding practical and functional home maintenance. She hopes that the slices of her life she shares can inspire and help people achieve stylish and beautiful spaces they can call home.
A dedicated mother and loving wife, Kristin and her husband faced one of their darkest moments as parents when their youngest son was diagnosed with Kawasaki Disease. Kawasaki Disease (KD) is the leading cause of acquired heart illnesses in children. If not treated, KD can lead to aneurysms, heart attack and death. The disease can be treated if diagnosed early. Sadly, it is sometimes misdiagnosed, like in Kristin’s case. Although her son has now completely recovered, Kristin is unrelenting in her mission to fight KD by spreading awareness about the ailment. She hopes that her son’s miracle will give hope to others facing the same battle and that her family’s own experiences with KD will help them prevent its dangerous effects. Currently, Grayson is in a KD study to help medical professionals better understand the sickness and to help promote effective diagnosis and treatment.
The Kawasaki Disease Foundation (KDF)
In line with Kristin’s goal of spreading awareness regarding her son’s previous condition, she has decided to support the Kawasaki Disease Foundation (KDF) for Balsam Hill’s Christmas in July Campaign. The KDF is a non-profit organization, and the only one dedicated exclusively to addressing issues related to the illness. As a by-product of the highly successful Kawasaki Disease Parent’s Education Symposium, it represents a true collaboration of parents and medical professionals. The board of directors comprises parents of children who have faced the ailment. Recognized Kawasaki Disease experts and other parents from around the United States also contribute a significant amount of time and effort to support the organization.
BH: Could you tell us a bit about the cause you’re supporting and what it means to you?
Kristin: I have chosen to support the Kawasaki Disease Foundation. As a mother, you know when something just isn’t right with your child. It actually comes the day you give birth; this motherly instinct. When our youngest, Grayson, became sick in March of 2013 with high fevers, swollen glands and joint pain, I knew something was not right. Over a week’s time, we were turned away by doctors. Our son was misdiagnosed and was given antibiotics, but nothing was making him better. He only continued to get worse. After receiving a call from a friend who saw my posts on FB, and whose son had been diagnosed with Kawasaki too, she told us to go back to the children’s hospital. She said that she will alert the KD specialist. I rushed him back, held him up to the window and begged for someone to take him. By this time, his fever was 107 and he was slowly slipping away. He was rushed back in. He met with specialists and was given the correct diagnosis. This happened 9 days after he first became sick. There is only a 10 day window in which you can get treatment in order to save the child’s heart.
As frightening as it was, it was a relief to finally have a diagnosis and start his IVIG treatment. Grayson was touch and go and we were rushed to ICU were he stayed for 3 days. Once the second dose of IVIG, steroids and Remicade infusions stabilized him, we were moved out of the ICU. We watched vigilantly as Grayson got better every day. A year later, Grayson is healthy and happy. Hos coronary arteries are back to the normal size. He did not suffer from any aneurysms or heart attacks. He is extremely fortunate!
I hope that, in addition, to raising money to help fund the diagnostic test for KD, that someone can eventually figure out a definitive cause, prevention procedures and a cure to this ailment in the near future.
BH: Deciding on a charity to support can be difficult. What led you to choose the charity you’re helping for this campaign?
Kristin: A diagnostic test would save more lives and give doctors a much faster, easier way of diagnosing KD. This way, kids can get treatment quickly and hopefully avoid the complications that comes with the disease. Diagnosing the disease is tricky because it presents a collection of symptoms, which often leads many doctors to believe that the sick child has a completely different ailment. Not everyone comes in with textbook indicators.
BH: Could you share a story about a time someone did something kind for you that really touched you?
Kristin: After being in the hospital with Grayson, we came home to a clean house. The laundry was even done, the other two children taken care of, and there was a week’s worth of meals and endless notes from family and friends. We felt so blessed.
BH: How do you encourage your kids to be giving?
Kristin: When getting ready to clean out closets, I make sure the kids put aside a pile of toys and clothes that we can take with us to drop off. During the holidays, we also host a family and help buy specific items the family needs. At the same time, we have the kids help when feeding the homeless.
BH: Is there a time when your children acted generously in a way that surprised and delighted you?
Kristin: We were shopping one day and my oldest found a $10 bill. He tried to return it to the manager, but was told that he could keep it for his honesty. While we were in the car, all three boys decided it would be best to give the money to someone in need. When we were stopped at a signal light, there was a homeless mother with her baby. The boys handed the mom the $10. I couldn’t have been more proud.
BH: What do you think is a simple way people can give back to their communities?
Kristin: Fortunately, we live in a community that constantly gives back. When a family is in need in our community, we all come together with meals, donations, babysitting and errands. It is the little things that mean the most.
BH: Anything else you would like us to know about you and/or the charity you selected?
Kristin: I have a huge respect for doctors, especially Doctor Burns, who took care of my son. Whatever it is your child is going through, don’t be scared to ask questions or go back. We must fight for our children and be their advocates.
If you would like to donate to the Kawasaki Disease Foundation, please visit Balsam Hill’s Christmas Charity page.