A Lenexa-based not-for-profit has impacted the lives of people in all 50 states and abroad. This summer, the Shadow Buddies Foundation shipped off its one millionth buddy.
Founder Marty Postlethwait’s vision for the shadow buddy first came to her when her son, Miles, was enduring countless medical treatments. He was born prematurely.
"When he said, ‘Mom I wish I had a friend like me,’ I was able to put a picture to it,” Postlethwait said.
Shadow Buddies come in all colors and kinds, helping children with different sicknesses feel not so alone.
“This is a little buddy that comes with a tracheotomy,” explained Postlethwait. “This one, he’s got a little stitching around the heart.”
Miles Postlethwait is now 29 but still remembers the feeling his buddy gave him.
"It's incredible to see the impact it has,” he said. “Just because something so small can help a kid understand what they are going through or even just to have by their side."
The foundation turns 21 this year and recently celebrated its one millionth buddy, shipped off to a child in need.
"I know what those parents go through. Now I'm on that other side thinking, I want to help and make it a little bit better,” Marty Postlethwait said.
Shadow Buddies has made its way through all 50 states and even abroad.
Marty Postlethwait keeps a photo near her office of a child in South Africa, being comforted by her buddy created in Lenexa.
The foundation averages between 25,000 and 35,000 buddies a year. They cost between $14 and $15 to make.
Though the work has surpassed Marty Postlethwait’s wildest dreams, she’s still doing everything she can to grow the foundation.
"There is such a huge need, because we see, every day, a request,” she said. “Especially from the hospitals, because they do see the emotional side of helping kids."
Shadow Buddies' annual fundraiser event is coming up in September. Tickets are still available here: http://www.shop.shadowbuddies.org/
Lexi Sutter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.