Shadow Buddies Foundation is making a significant impact on the lives of children battling medical illnesses and disabilities by providing them with a unique best friend.
The organization in Lenexa has been making a significant impact in the lives of young ones in our community.
Shadow Buddies Foundation has been distributing "Shadow Buddies" specially designed plush dolls, to provide emotional support and facilitate important conversations about health.
Marty Postlethwait, exective director and co-founder of Shadow Buddies started this initiative from first hand experience.
“I had a son, Miles is now 36, that was born premature, and out of the need to help Miles, we created Shadow Buddies," said Postlethwait said. "He was about six and was heading back to the operating room again, and I think at this time he had about 23 major surgeries. And he said "you know, mom, I really wish I had a friend that was just like me."
That's where the magic of the best friend, Shadow Buddies came to be. Now celebrating over 20 years of serving children around the world and locally.
“It makes them feel good. The great thing about shadow buddies, they're a tangible item," Postlethwait said. "It's something that they can visually see when they're going through a traumatic situation."
These adorable and huggable dolls serve as more than just cuddly companions; they play a vital role in helping children cope with challenging medical situations. With over 38 different buddies, each one reflects a story.
Audrey Pool, 18, from Olathe, was diagnosed with Turner Syndrome. Through long days and nights with doctors, her specially-made buddy has been there every step of the way.
“Just knowing that you're not alone and even if it seems like you're the only one going through what you're going through," Pool said. "There are so many people out there that even if you don't know them that they're sharing a similar experience and they're supporting you even if they don't even know you.”
With the help of donations, sponsors and local athletes like Travis Kelce and Khiry Shelton, the Shadow Buddies foundation had distributed over 2.2 million buddies nationwide.
Shadow Buddies Foundation continues to impact the community and children. Their new partnership with the Johnson County Sheriff's Department, has made a special four-legged buddy to help kids and families in the community battling mental health. The buddy is a look-like of the sheriffs department's service dog, Gus.
“The minute I saw Gus, I knew that, hands down, that he had to be our next buddy. And what a perfect fit to put a service dog or our therapy dog with our line of shadow buddies," Postlethwait said.
Gus has played a big role in the community providing families with emotional support through his calm and loving personality. Alongside his handler, Deputy Jack Weese, they will now be able to serve more children without being with them physically.
“It was something that we wanted to do, and we just happened to get teamed up with Shadow Buddies," Weese said.
With each buddy they deliver, Shadow Buddies brings a ray of hope and understanding to children facing medical challenges in our community. Reminding them that sometimes a small gesture of kindness can have a profound impact on a child's life.
The organization continues to expand its reach, and with the unwavering support of the community, they hope to touch the hearts of even more children and families, making a difference one shadow buddy at a time.