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Olivia Caldwell Foundation is a Casper Wyoming Non-Profit that has found the Cure for a Childhood Cancer! Did you know, we have a non-profit in Casper that raises money for childhood cancer research and also provides other services for kids with other complex medical conditions? The Olivia Caldwell Foundation. Listen below to learn more.
Olivia Caldwell Foundation Did you know, we have a non-profit in Casper that raises money for childhood cancer research and also provides other services for kids with other complex medical conditions? Hi, I’m Alisha Collins with RE/MAX The Group. I’m Katie Caldwell-Burchett, and I’m the CEO and founder of the Olivia Caldwell Foundation. So the Olivia Caldwell Foundation is near and dear to my heart. I’m actually on the board of directors. Tell us about how and why you started this foundation. The Olivia Caldwell Foundation was created just a couple of weeks after my daughter, Olivia, passed away from brain cancer. She was diagnosed with brain cancer when she was just four months old, and passed away when she was 20 months old, back in October of 2013. When Olivia died, I was obviously left with a gigantic hole in my heart, and a lot that I wanted to be able to do to really honor the life and the legacy of my daughter, who wasn’t able to be with me for very long. So, since we were created, we’ve been dedicated to funding pediatric cancer research. And we’ve also been dedicated just to trying to improve the overall lives of children who are battling complex medical conditions in Wyoming. Because it’s not just cancer that’s near and dear to my heart. It’s other complex medical conditions too, because her twin brother Wyatt actually has type one diabetes as well. So we just kind of dove in, and wanted to see if we could make a really big difference in the name of my daughter. And a really big difference has been made. Because of great people out there like you that are watching this, and people in our community, we have raised how much money? We have now given $525,000 to pediatric cancer research in the past seven years. And that money has been used to find the cure for actually seven different types of pediatric cancers at this point, including the one that killed my own daughter. And every time either you or I say it, I still get goosebumps. And I’ve probably said it hundreds of times now. And it’s just really amazing that we can use something so sad to really further what we’re doing here and save other lives. Yeah, it’s incredible. It’s very, very bittersweet for me. When my daughter was diagnosed, it looked completely different. When she went through the diagnosis process, it was a surgical brain biopsy, and we knew that she had a pediatric grade II astrocytoma. And so she had IV chemo, and that was the way that that went. She got sick, she lost her hair. You know, she lost a lot of her developmental skills. It was really tough on her body. And now a child that’s diagnosed with that they know that just knowing the grade and the type of the tumor isn’t enough. They need to know what that driving genetic mutation is that’s causing the cancer to grow. And because of the work that we funded, they now can do a simple blood test at diagnosis that helps them figure that out. And then the treatment is completely pinpointed. So now we know, Olivia had a grade II astrocytoma that had an FGFR1 mutation, and today she would be treated with an oral chemo tablet that she would take at home. She wouldn’t get sick, she wouldn’t lose her hair, and she would still be alive. If any of you love the science behind this, you can go to our website and actually read about the research that is being done. And it’s, it’s really quite incredible. Dr. Nick Foreman has written up kind of, what he has done and how it looks for these kids. So it’s really interesting. So I encourage you to check it out. We had done another YouTube video, years ago, and there’s a lot of things that have changed. So, we raise money for cancer research, but tell us the second thing we did. So back in 2019, our incredible board of directors and myself felt like we could do more. We’d been so well supported in the community here in Casper, and throughout Wyoming, really. And we wanted to find a way to be able to help other kids with other types of complex medical conditions. So one of the tragedies that comes when you have a child that’s sick is they typically can’t be treated here in Wyoming. They’re gonna have to travel out of state to receive even basic follow-up care. Now we’re working really hard to help change that. So we partnered with Children’s Hospital Colorado and Wyoming Medical Center to open a pediatric specialty outreach clinic right here in Casper, which is actually where we’re standing today. This clinic is here to house physicians from Children’s Hospital who come up here to treat kids for a variety of complex medical conditions. And it’s in a really beautiful pediatric-friendly facility that’s conveniently located on the Wyoming Medical Center campus. One of my favorite things about our clinic is that we made it kid friendly. So we have butterflies going down the hall. We have paintings that were painted by local artists in the exam rooms. And I think it just makes it so much more kid friendly. It does. And it makes a big difference for these kids. It’s hard going to the doctor, and if you can make it as bright, and as fun, and as wonderful as it possibly can be, that makes a big difference. And they’re not having to travel out of state. So what might’ve been a one or two day visit where the whole family’s missing school and work, and staying in a hotel and having to pay for gas. Now, maybe they’re just missing an hour of work and school, and then they get to go back, and they’re not having all of those added expenses too. And stress. Yes. And what’s really cool is we’ve been able to bring those specialists up here already for cardiology and endocrinology. And then starting later this year, we’ll have pulmonology and GI services. And for GI, they’re even gonna be able to do colonoscopies and endoscopies right here in Casper, which is pretty incredible. That’s amazing. With the group of people that we are serving now, there was a kind of a natural next step, right? Mm hmm. And so that’s really exciting. So I want you to talk about that. Yeah, so as we were mentioning, when you have a child that’s sick, it’s really hard, not just on the child, but on the entire family. It means that you’re missing work, you’re missing school. Your other children are maybe feeling a little bit left out. It’s hard on marriages, it’s hard on families, it’s hard on siblings, it’s hard on the kids themselves. And a lot of times people just don’t know that there’s help that’s out there for them. We live in such an amazing state, and through the work that we’ve done, I’ve learned about all of these amazing resources that exist, but no one knows how to find them. And when you’re that overwhelmed as it is, you don’t have the capacity to do the Google research or to call around and ask and find out, “Do I qualify for this?” So we created a patient advocacy program with our partners at the Orr’s Hope Foundation, which has actually hired a patient advocate. And her whole job is to be able to identify what all of those resources are to help Wyoming families, so they can call her, and she can do the research for them. She can find out what they qualify for, help them through the process of it. She can make the phone call, she can help fill out the paperwork. And it’s for needs for the entire family. So it could be helping connect them to travel assistance, but it also could be helping with household bills, with rent assistance. It could be- Food. Yeah, food. Even finding the best counselors in your area. And the best part is, it’s a completely free program and it is statewide. So we can help you, regardless of income level, type of diagnosis, there really are no restrictions. We even helped a few adults. And because that’s all she does, she really knows the ins and outs of what there is to help people out there. Mm hmm. Yeah, and what’s really cool too, is that she’s a resource for the other resources. So a lot of times they will call her on behalf of a family and say, “Hey, we’ve been helping this family. We know they have a need beyond what we can do. Do you know of anything else that can help them?” She can tell the other resource about the information. That resource can then help this family. They never even have to talk to Kaitlin. They don’t even know that we have to exist. We can just be a silent third-party partner that’s in the background, just trying to help get everyone connected. One of my very favorite things to do is to plan these fundraisers that we do with you and the other people on the board, and all of our absolutely fantastic helpers. So let’s talk about a few of those. Let’s start with the Butterfly Ball. I’d love to hear what inspired you to develop that fundraiser. So the Butterfly Ball is a really fun fundraiser. It is an adult prom. And what inspired us to come up with an adult prom as a fundraiser was out of some loves that Olivia had during her life. So my little girl was all about getting dressed up, getting pretty, and she wanted to pose and see how she looked in the mirror. She also had a great love for butterflies. So we thought what better way than to create a Butterfly Ball, where there’s butterflies everywhere, but people are also getting dressed up and honoring my little girl. And it’s always held really close to what would be her birthday. So we’re typically either in February or the very, very end of January. It is such a fun event. We have heavy orders, people get dressed up, they come and dance, we have some silent auction items. And we just, it’s just a great place to bring your friends, socialize, and have fun. It is, and it’s really meant to be very different from the traditional gala. So it’s not a sit-down dinner. There’s not a big live auction. We do do a mission paddle raise, but other than that, we pretty much leave you alone, and let you dance. And we also even do a prom king and queen competition, which is always the highlight of every year. We’ve had up to 25 couples compete against each other for votes, and the winning couple gets crowned at the Butterfly Ball and wins and all expenses paid vacation. So it’s a pretty cool deal. And speaking of fun, we are coming up on the golf tournament. It is July right now, it’s next month. And that’s a really great fun event as well, because people love to golf here. Yes they do. Yeah, and it’s another one where we really like to create fun fundraisers that maybe are just a touch different than what you might normally see. So our golf tournament is an invitation-only golf tournament. You can request to get an invitation. But in general, we invite people to come and join us. We’re doing a double shotgun for the first time this year, which is really exciting. And then afterwards, we have a golf ball drop. We have a live and silent auction, we have a great dinner. It’s really a very fun evening for everyone. Yes. And I think that it’s another place that we can all get together, and comradery, and just have fun. Absolutely. We would absolutely love to have you involved in the Olivia Caldwell Foundation. So you can check our website, that is… Oliviacaldwellfoundation.org, or you also can call us at 333-1273 and talk to any Olivia Caldwell Foundation staff member, or reach out to any of our fantastic board members. They would all love to help you get connected. Hope to see you soon! Thank you.