Since launching Kelsey’s Promise on the first anniversary of Kelsey’s passing, July 8, 2018, our foundation has achieved great success, raising $200,000 in just three years!
The tremendous support we received enabled Albany Med to add a pediatric brain tumor support specialist to the Melodies Center staff. Kelsey’s Promise is now expanding its role to support pediatric brain tumor patients and families by also providing funding for comfort bags that will include gift cards and pediatric brain tumor education and resources.
Kelsey’s Promise Mission
Kelsey’s Promise supports initiatives for the betterment of The Melodies Center with a dedication to improving the quality of life for pediatric brain tumor patients and families, while honoring the legacy of the magnificent Kelsey Kittleson.
Kelsey Rebecca Kittleson was an exceptional girl who made us so very proud. Before her diagnosis, she was a high honors student, an athlete, the lead in her school musicals, a musician playing piano and cello, and a gifted soprano singer who was invited to sing in the St. John’s Collegium Choir. She was funny, goofy, and loved 80’s movies, The Big Bang Theory, and classic bands like Journey and Queen. What impressed us most was her desire, starting at a young age, to find ways to make a difference for others.
As she started to come into her own, she would find causes that needed her help and then developed her own plan to make a difference. For her 13th birthday, she created a donation drive for the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society that filled an entire SUV full of items. In her 8th grade year she sketched out a tutoring concept for fellow middle school students, met with her principal for approval, recruited friends to help, and got her plan up and running.
When we met with Kelsey’s Melodies Center team to discuss what the clinic really needed to better support its patients, families, and staff, a pediatric brain tumor support specialist was high on the list. Why? Currently Melodies cares for over 500 patients, 30 of which are considered critical. Their needs, which are complex, multifaceted, and exist beyond an 8 am to 4 pm workday are met by one social worker. Just one.
No parent can prepare for the nightmare that is a brain tumor diagnosis for their child. Our social worker was there, always, and in every way we needed her throughout our journey. She sat by our side as we were told our daughter she had terminal brain cancer. She was supportive as we tried to navigate the whole new world we were flung into that brought with it so many emotions, questions, chaos, and a new normal that was far from normal. Our Melodies social worker counseled us and held us together as we told our teenage daughter there were no more treatment options and that she would not survive. When the time had come, our social worker gently guided us as we planned for Kelsey’s end of life. In Kelsey’s final weeks, she made herself available any moment we needed her. She was juggling the care of many other patients at the same time and she did it all with professionalism, compassion, and a smooth expertise that made our whole family feel taken care of. She never once let on that she was stressed or tired or sad herself watching Kelsey as her life was ending. And, most importantly, Kelsey loved her social worker, she trusted her, she needed her.
Imagine…one person doing all of that and being all of that for every patient at The Melodies Center. Kelsey’s Promise recognizes that a social worker is an imperative member of the Melodies team of heroes and is committed to financially supporting a pediatric brain tumor support specialist.