As many of you know, Misty and I lost our 3rd and youngest child on January 9th, 2015. Our Lila Kate was born March 31st 2010, with down syndrome, pulmonary hypertension, and a heart defect which required open heart surgery when she was just a few months old. Lila’s first two and a half years were spent never getting out of the house much. She required oxygen 24 hours a day, so we were very careful in not exposing her to a lot of people in fear of her getting whatever sickness was going around. It was not long after she was two and a half that doctors told us Lila only needed to have additional oxygen during the night. This was such great news because this meant we were now able to function more like a family. All of a sudden, Lila was going everywhere!
Lila was the happiest and most loving child I have ever been around. She never greeted anyone without giving her famous hug and pat on the back. As one young man said, “Lila has taught me more about love than any man on earth.” She was the best example of Christ-like love that I have ever been around. It was this kind of love that was the motivation for starting a memorial fund in her honor.
Within a week after Lila’s funeral, Misty and a friend started kicking around the idea of having a 5K race to raise money for organizations that helped special needs children. This was when the I Love Lila Kate Memorial Fund was established. We formed a board of directors and went to work on raising money for a 5K race that was to be held on March 21, 2015. This specific date was very important to us because down syndrome is genetically referred to as trisomy 21. This is when there is an extra copy of chromosome 21. With God’s help we were able to pull off the very first I Love LK 5K in just seven weeks. We had about 200 participants and raised $18,000, which we gave to local organizations focused on special needs children.
God has continued to bless the I Love LK Memorial Fund and race. At last year’s race there were over 600 runners/walkers signed up and we gave away $42,000! In all, the LK Memorial Fund has raised and given $150,000 to some wonderful local organizations in honor of our precious little girl. We are so thankful to God for putting this idea of a memorial fund in Misty’s thoughts five years ago. Not only has the LK Fund and race helped a lot of special needs children, it has also helped tremendously with the grieving our family has experienced with losing Lila Kate. Every time we see someone wearing an LK hat, or an LK 5K race t-shirt we just smile! We love hearing the stories of how people on vacation hundreds of miles away ran into someone wearing an LK shirt, or hat. It is truly amazing to see what God is doing through a little special needs girl whom He called home after four and half years! – SKIP & MISTY MCALISTER