Moms, dads, families and communities can be brought together unexpectedly simply by the common love they share for their children.
Kim Kaster, owner of Brewed Awakenings in Saline, has been drawn to The ChadTough Foundation since Tammi first started publicly sharing Chad’s battle with DIPG in 2014. She followed every post and her heart went out to the Carr family. Kim’s son Zach also followed Chad’s story closely and he was very drawn to Chad and the Carr family as well.
While most of us relate easily to the Chad’s brave battle with DIPG, Zach’s story is a little bit different, a little more special. Zach, now 26 years old, is special in many ways, and he just also happens to have autism.
“Zach has never really shown much interest in anything or any other people. In fact, he really doesn’t show many emotions at all,” shared Kim. “His interest right from the start in Chad‘s story made my heart warm. I knew we had to get involved with The ChadTough Foundation because it meant so much to him. Zach was truly moved by Chad’s story and we followed Tammi’s posts daily. When Chad passed away Zach cried. While this is a normal reaction for most, Zach has only cried 3 or 4 times in his 26 years of life.”
“Taking care of Zach along with owning and managing a coffee shop doesn’t leave much extra time in my life. While I wanted to volunteer to help raise money for DIPG awareness, I just couldn’t seem to find the extra time. I figured the least I could do is donate coffee and baked goods for The ChadTough Foundation events.”
Brewed Awakenings first got involved in 2015 by donating coffee for the ChadTough Garage Sale. While Kim felt like it wasn’t a “big deal” the Carr family was very appreciative.
“Kim has been a blessing right from the beginning, always willing to donate coffee for The ChadTough Foundation events.” Tammi added, “Our foundation relies highly on the support of our local businesses and we are so thankful for Kim’s generosity.”
Brewed Awakenings continues to donate baked goods, hot cocoa and coffee for all of the Run Tough for ChadTough 5K & 1M Fun Run events. Brewed Awakenings also carries ChadTough t-shirts on hand for sale. They started selling them right before Chad’s funeral and have carried them for sale every since.
Kim proudly displays ChadTough signs in the windows at Brewed Awakenings to keep spreading public awareness for the Carr family. She is also currently selling raffle tickets for the Honda Gold Wing motorcycle being raffled at the 2nd Annual Champions for Change Gala May 19, 2018.
Making a Difference
Most important for Zach and Kim is the time that Zach gets to donate at the RunTough for ChadTough events. He has volunteered for several RunTough events and it means the world to both him and Kim. The other ChadTough volunteers have welcomed him with open arms and are there to “help” him volunteer his time. These volunteer days mean the world to Zach because he feels like he is making a difference and truly helping Tammi.
This is another great example of how The ChadTough Foundation is making a difference. Not only is the foundation getting closer to finding a cure for DIPG, but it is also providing a special opportunity for Zach to feel like he is part of a bigger cause.
I was fortunate enough to meet Zach at the end of my interview with Kim. He was just getting dropped off from school and he came into Brewed Awakenings wearing a ChadTough t-shirt (which Kim says he wears at least 2 to 3 days a week). His excitement was quite apparent when I told him I was writing a feature for The ChadTough Foundation. He told me he couldn’t wait to see the Carr family at the next RunTough for ChadTough 5K event and that Tammi was happy when he volunteered to take video of her when she speaks.
“I feel like the Carrs have been an inspiration to many people (and Zach) in the way they have made the best of such a horrific situation. I am beyond words how our community has stepped up to help. I truly feel honored to be a small part of it; it is something bigger than all of us. We all just want to do what we can so children who are diagnosed with DIPG in the future have hope for a cure.”
Every family has their own hills to climb, their own daily struggles to get through. Sometimes helping another family with their uphill climb actually helps your own family even more. Take time to reach out and help in your community. You will get more in return than you could ever imagine.
About Rosalie Behen
Rosalie Behen is a volunteer writer for the ChadTough foundation. She has a bachelors degree in communications from Western Michigan University and has been an small business owner (Therapeutic Massage) in Washtenaw County for the last 13 years. Rosalie got involved with the ChadTough Foundation because she is hoping to see positive strides in finding a cure for DIPG.. She watched the Carr’s painful journey with Chad via social media and felt compelled to help in a positive way. Rosalie lives in Saline, Michigan with her husband David and their three children, Isabel, Josh and Olivia.