Polk Co. parents use tragedy to help others

Couple provides shoes to kids who have none

POLK COUNTY, Fla. - A family, who lost their son nearly a year ago, is helping other families in his honor.

On May 2, 2016, Kalen Kirk was killed, crossing the road to go to his bus stop.

His family always wanted to start a nonprofit to help others, but after Kalen Kirk's death, they began the foundation sooner than expected.

"As Christians, we still wanted to do what we could do to make other people’s lives better," Lisa Kirk said.

Lisa Kirk calls herself Kalen's bonus mother. Kalen Kirk's family is a blended family and that's how they came up with the foundation's name. It's called the Blended Family Foundation. 

"Instead of grieving his death, we chose to celebrate his life," Tony Kirk said. 

Tony Kirk is Kalen's father and he said this particular project is called the Kalen Kares Campaign. They are providing shoes and socks through the Kalen Kares Campaign and food and hygiene items to families through the Blended Family Foundation.

"If he were here and he were a part of it, he'd be all over it. He'd think it was the coolest thing," Tony Kirk said.

The foundation has already donated hundreds of shoes to children and they plan to continue the initiative.

This weekend they will have an 18K run in Kalen's honor. He would have turned 18 this year. The relay race is also close to the anniversary of his death. The money raised this weekend will be used to continue the foundation's work.

"We didn’t want to walk around with bricks on and right after his birthday, of course, is the anniversary of the accident (and) we didn’t want to just walk around like zombies again. We didn’t want to do that and so we know that there are so many kids who don’t have a firm foundation with just good shoes to wear," Lisa Kirk said.

That is why they are on a mission to provide shoes and socks to families in need.

"For us to be on this particular platform, we’re going to use it for good. And so 18 pairs of shoes for 18 schools and daycare centers and after school programs is what we’re doing to celebrate his 18th birthday," Lisa Kirk said.

One reason the family chose to donate shoes was because of Kalen's love for shoes. The second reason was because he had a new passion for running and was thinking about pursuing the sport during his senior year of high school.

"Kalen liked cool shoes and he was the kind of (kid that would) pre order. If there was a new pair of shoes that he wanted, he would pre order them and he was known in George Jenkins (High School) for his cool shoes and socks," Tony Kirk said.

Lisa Kirk said they will hand out trophies to the top 18 people who finish the race; she said Kalen's biological mother finalized the design of the trophy.

For more information about this weekend's 18K Relay, go to https://www.facebook.com/KalenKares4Community/.

For more information about the Blended Family Foundation and how you can help, go to http://www.shareyoursunshine.com/the-blended-family.html.

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