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Kate Leong of Valley Forge Receives Nemours Inspiration Award
Mother Raises $60K for an All-Abilities Playground
From left: Lori Counts, Nemours Fund for Children's Health; David Bailey, MD, Nemours President and CEO; Kate and Ed Leong; Roy Proujansky, MD, duPont Hospital CEO.
Kate Leong of Valley Forge, PA, has received the Nemours Inspiration Award for 2014. The award is given annually to someone whose philanthropy on behalf of the patients and families of Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children has inspired others to take action. Kate was able to raise more than $60,000 to help the hospital build a playground that will be accessible to children of all abilities.
The Leong family is well known to many Nemours associates who had the privilege of caring for Kate’s son, Gavin. A few years ago, Kate saw that Gavin, who had special health care needs, could not easily use the equipment on the hospital’s playground. Advocating not only for her son but for all the families she met at Nemours, she wrote a letter to the CEO, cleverly in Gavin’s ‘voice.’ The effort paid off almost immediately. The hospital purchased a special swing that Gavin was able to enjoy many times (at left) before he passed away in April 2013 at age 5. Kate chronicled Gavin’s life in her popular and touching blog, Chasing Rainbows, and continues to share her family’s story with frequent references to Gavin and his capacity for joy.
Early in 2014, leading up to the first anniversary of Gavin’s death, Kate and her husband, Ed Leong, began to think about how they could honor their son. They decided to host a trivia night fundraiser and auction called Gavin’s Playground Project, with the proceeds going to develop an accessible playground at the hospital. “I can’t advocate for Gavin any longer, but I can continue to campaign for all of the other kids who deserve a place to play,” said Kate. Though a fundraising neophyte, Kate jumped in with both feet. Primarily through her blog (Kate has 110,000 followers) the Leongs drew 400 people to the event and raised more than $60,000 for the project. Kate’s passion is contagious.
Kate and Ed have another son Brian, age 6, and a daughter, Hope, who just celebrated her first birthday. The Leongs have made personal contributions to Nemours and have taken part in the Help Our Kids Radiothon for the past two years. Kate has inspired many community members to make philanthropic gifts to Nemours through her blog. More than that, Kate has continued looking for ways to improve the patient experience at the hospital where Gavin was beloved and spent many days. “I was completely stunned and honored to receive the award,” Kate said. "I feel like the award really belongs to Gavin. Our little boy never spoke a word, yet he continues to touch and inspire people every day. The day that playground is unveiled will be a happy day in our family and I know Gavin will be looking down with a smile.