How the Foundation came to be
The foundation is named after Kristina Conn, the bravest, most out going, strong, enthusiastic, hopeful, loving, energetic & magnetic person you could imagine. Kristina Conn was all of this and so much more which made the mission easy to define.
Kristina was born January 4th, 1994 and appeared to be a very healthy 7 lb 15 1/2 oz baby. At 6 weeks old she was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, a genetic disease there is no cure for. Her diagnosis was devastating and completely unexpected. Her parents found themselves in a whirl-wind of information, doctors and new things they had to learn in order to keep their daughter alive. Kristina's entire life consisted of frequent doctor visits to specialist over 100 miles away from where she and her family lived, multiple & lengthy hospital stays also over 100 miles away from where they lived, multiple surgeries, tons of medications that had to be taken several times each day and hours of respiratory treatments each day just to stay alive and attempt to stay as healthy as possible. Even though she faced this every morning, she lived every single day to the absolute fullest. She didn't let her condition define her, she said it many times over in her short 21 years and would always say "CF isn't who I am, it's just something I have" and she was right.
You see, because of her condition, her family made many sacrifices over the years. They lived pay check to pay check, stress everyday wondering if treatments would be covered by insurance, keeping colds & flu that was all around her far enough away to keep her healthy, knowing that any illness could take their daughters life, finding ways to include their other children so they didn't feel left behind, worrying about how to pay the bills and afford her medication at the same time, remembering the medicine schedules so nothing was missed, making sure no medicine ran out because the ramification could be life threatening. Wondering how to come up with gas money for the long trips to the doctors and hoping their jobs wouldn't let them go due to frequent time off, yet still trying to keep life as normal as possible and not let the stress affect the children. The stresses that came with her diagnosis took a severe toll on the family but there was nothing that could be done about it.
They were placed in a situation that was completely out of their control and they had to simply make the best out of a very trying situation. Fortunately, her parents found a way to stand strong, together and worked really hard at getting through each day the best they could...never giving up on each other. Family life was ALWAYS stressful but for the most part happy none-the-less. People admired Kristina for her strength and her constant compassion for those in need. Kristina would get very upset when she would encounter someone who was homeless and always wanted to do what should could to help. Every year around the holidays, which was Kristina's favorite time of year, she and her family would gather items to hand out to the homeless. One year they took up a collection of blankets, socks, food, money and miscellaneous items to distribute all around town. Kristina did not want anyone to feel alone at the holidays. Her peers would confide in her and ask her “how she does it" because she faced all of her challenges with positivity and strength. These kids looked to Kristina for advice on how to get through their own troubles. Kristina hated to be dependent on her parents when she was hospitalized or sick. One year, both her parents had surgery at the same time and were laid up. For the first time, she had to be the care giver for them. She thought that was the most amazing thing and gloated about it like it was some amazing task to have. For the first time in her life, she was not the patient and they were dependent on her...a moment that she was very proud of (sad actually when you think about it). She was a symbol of strength as she carried out each of her days.
After Kristina passed away on October 3, 2015, the family was obviously devastated. They knew they wanted to do something in her honor and memory. A permanent plaque marker at the beach was decided on and was to be placed along the boardwalk at "her spot", but that wasn't enough. They wanted something that would make more of an impact on peoples’ lives, just like she did...and so they began discussions of creating the foundation. Kristina always wanted to help others and never let anyone feel sorry for themselves. She gave people courage, strength, LOVE AND HOPE to face another day and that everything would be okay no matter what. Because she was able to convey these things to so many people, the pieces for the foundation simply fell into place. On what would have been Kristina's 23rd birthday, during the reveal of the permanent plaque marker, along the boardwalk at the beach, Kristina Conn Foundation was presented to the community as an official non-profit organization ready to continue Kristina’s passion of reassuring families there is ALWAYS LOVE AND HOPE. The vision for the mission was immediate and clear, to help families in their time of need.