Five years ago Glen Burnie resident Debi Katzenberger was grieving over the loss of her beautiful granddaughter Kamryn, who she lost to cancer. In Kamrynâ€™s final moments, Katzenberger promised her she would honor Kamrynâ€™s memory every day of her life. Jump ahead to the present, and the legacy Katzenberger has established ensures that Kamryn will never be forgotten.
Kamryn loved pajamas. Every time she was admitted to the hospital, she received a new pair. The crazier the better. Six months after she died, Katzenberger started Kamiâ€™s Jammies, delivering new pajamas to the University of Maryland Hospital for Children in March of 2008, the same hospital that had so lovingly cared for Kamryn. This began a tradition of pajamas parties for the patients, care packages for their stay, and support for their families.
Today, Kami’s Jammies is one of six programs provided by the Casey Cares Foundation, the Baltimore-based nonprofit that helps critically ill children and their families. It has grown from serving the children of one local hospital, to twenty hospitals throughout Maryland and the surrounding Mid-Atlantic region. Over 4,000 pajamas have been given to children, giving them a little normalcy in the face of devastating illnesses.
Katzenbergerâ€™s efforts have not gone unrecognized. Last month, she received the Dunkinâ€™ Donuts â€śThanks to Youâ€ť Community Hero Award. The award is given to celebrate those who go above and beyond to help keep their community running every day. Ten Marylanders received the honor, chosen from over 100 nominees. Each honoree received an American Express gift card and coffee and donuts for a year.
Says Pamela Goode, the Communications Director for the Casey Cares Foundation, â€śDebi brings a lot of heart. She is enthusiastic in whatever she does and she is a real asset to our organization running Kamiâ€™s Jammies. I wasn’t surprised she was chosen because I know she is a great nominee. She goes above and beyond with all she does at Casey Cares. Everyone loves her!â€ť
Katzenberger is not someone who likes to bask in the spotlight, but she was very happy to receive the award. Says Katzenberger, â€śI thought it was really cool. I donâ€™t like to win awards, but I do like the recognition for Kamiâ€™s Jammies. I was excited and humbled and really touched because of the idea behind the program. They get the uniqueness and are touched by it. It makes me feel like I have done a good job honoring Kamrynâ€™s memory. She is remembered yet again by new people and they learn about her. She has a profound impact on people even after she died. It keeps her spirit going.â€ť
For more information about Kamiâ€™s Jammies, visit www.caseycaresfoundation.org or www.kamrynlambert.com.