HARRISON COUNTY, In. (WAVE) - A Harrison County teen isn’t letting illness get her down; she’s stepping up to help others - and doing it in a way that lets the community have some fun.
There was no shortage of fun things to try for the hundreds of kids at Lincoln Hills Christian Church on Saturday for Kinley’s Carnival Birthday Bash. From train rides, to a llama kissing booth - even painting glitter onto unicorns!
“You can’t really see it daddy," 4-year-old Myalynn Davis said to her dad, as she was getting it just-so.
“Well, I’m trying to spread it all out,” he answered.
The bash is now in its fifth year, still proving to be a big draw for kids like Myalynn.
Lisa Mascio-Thompson and her family volunteered at the carnival, all for Kinley Elrod.
“A kid that has overcome so much just wants to give back, especially right now with how things are with the world - so it’s beautiful,” Mascio-Thompson said.
“She’s my little cousin," Destiny DeWeese explained. “I’ve always looked up to her. I know that’s a little weird, looking up to my little cousin. But she’s really inspiring me.”
At just 15 years old, Kinley puts on the whole carnival to help kids at Norton Children’s Hospital because she can relate.
“I enjoy helping the kids in the hospital because I know their journey," Kinley said. “It may not be the same but I know how they feel.”
As a baby, Kinley came close to dying. Born without a pituitary gland, she’s spent plenty of time in and out of Norton Children’s hospital for a number of issues.
“I am a frequent patient at Norton Children’s Hospital," she said. " I have panhypopituitarism and I’m also adrenal insufficient. So any little illness can end me up in the hospital."
Seeing how staff helped her and others, she wanted to give back. Through Kinley’s Helping Hands, she’s raised more than $65,000 for Norton Children’s so far. Her stand out work stood out to Governor Eric Holcomb. The state recognized her for it on the carnival’s fifth anniversary.
“The Distinguished Hoosier award is granted at the discretion of the governor to people for outstanding service to their community," Karen Engleman, State Representative for District 70, said. “And Kinley certainly, certainly does do that.”
The award and Saturday’s successful fundraiser were a way Kinley said she can repay the kindness Norton Children’s has shown her over the years. That thank you, she plans to keep paying forward right here in the years to come.
“I feel like, they’ve done so much for me. This is just like a little thank you," she said.
The money raised by Kinley’s Birthday Carnival goes to Norton Children’s Hospital, providing a fund for Harrison County families whose children are admitted to the hospital as well as raising money to renovate rooms.