This July, Karen journeyed to Uganda to see the promise of a special little girl finally come to fruition. Cailyn Nelson, the precious daughter of family friends of Karen, passed away in 2012 from an incurable brain cancer, DIPG. Her beautiful and joyful soul touched the lives of everyone she met—and is what spurred Karen to begin a charitable project in her name: “Cailyn’s Promise.”
Karen began fundraising for Okoa Refuge, a nonprofit based out of Jacksonville, Florida, that rescues and provides care for abandoned and orphaned children in Masaka, Uganda. The fundraising’s purpose was to build a clinic to deliver affordable healthcare to the village there as well as surrounding areas that wouldn’t otherwise have access to medical services. On July 21st, four and 1/2 years after her project began, Karen traveled with a team of doctors to help in the grand opening of the Okoa Refuge Medical Clinic - House of Joy—where individuals and families now have access to general medical care (soon to include dentistry) with a plan to expand to include maternity and labor and delivery care in the next year.
The naming of the House of Joy reflects the joy and strength that Cailyn brought to those around her. How her heart called her to take care of those she knew and those she had just met, and to make a choice every day to better the lives of those around her. Karen feels so fortunate and humbled to have been involved in this project and in honoring Cailyn, helping to carry forward Cailyn’s mother Crystal’s message that “strength through grace brings joy” and that the clinic, House of Joy, and all of us can continue to carry on Cailyn’s life and legacy though strength, grace, and joy.
To learn more about the Okoa Refuge or to make a charitable contribution, please click here.
“There is no footprint too small to leave an imprint on this world.”
In loving memory of Cailyn Nelson