ARLINGTON (CBS 11 NEWS) – At first glance, it might seem an unusual way to honor the passing of someone’s death. At Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers in Arlington, KISS-FM had a tent up outside blaring the station’s on-air content over speakers. People lined up for chicken inside while a female band belted out tunes. And people stood around talking and laughing both inside and outside the restaurant.
But this was a fundraiser for Kidd Kraddick’s charity, Kidd’s Kids. And it was a message that even though Kraddick died suddenly, his charity would continue.
“The charity was something that was closest to his heart, you know, helping chronically and terminally ill children and letting them get a break from reality and taking them to Disney World,” said KISS DJ Billy the Kid. “And not just them. I’m talking about their families and whoever they want to take with them.”
Ironically, Kraddick died while attending a fund raiser for Kidd’s Kids last weekend in New Orleans.
Kraddick’s charity has helped thousands of chronically and terminally ill children and their families escape the harsh realities of dealing with illness by funding all-expense paid trips to Disney World.
Hannah Hughes, who has spina bifida, went on the trip back in 2000. Since then, the memories have helped her battle through dozens of surgeries.
“They never once left our side that I can remember,” Hughes said. “And they just always showed lots of compassion for people like us. And they made us feel like everybody else. I don’t know, they just made us feel special. Those memories, they don’t just go to the back of your head. They stay with you forever. Its one of those moments you won’t ever forget.”
Hughes took her mother and sister with her on the trip. But the Hughes family received more than a getaway to Florida. They received acceptance. And they found strength to fight for a better life.
As a child, doctor’s said Hannah was never supposed to walk. But she does today with the aid of crutches. And Kidd’s Kids helped her.
“I’ve had 37 surgeries,” Hughes said. “And every time I’m in a bad place I think about the happy memories I’ve had. It actually helps me keep going. Honestly, without memories like that, I don’t think I’d keep going.”
“Kidd’s Kids really changed our lives,” said Hughes’ mother Becky. “It taught us this doesn’t have to be a bad thing.”
Now, Hannah is standing up for the charity.
“I’ve told them I really do want to help,” Hannah Hughes said. “I really want to help. I’m not bluffing.”
Hannah still loves to talk about her trip to Disney World.
Now the spark Kidd’s kids lit in her 13-years ago fires a desire to help others.
Hannah has begun using social media to organize other fund raising efforts for the charity.
“She’s passionate about it and its all her,” said Becky Hughes. “We’re in the middle of some other things in our lives and we would not be here today talking to anyone if it hadn’t of been for Hannah saying ‘Mom, I’ve got to do this.’ And I like that.”
The fund raiser is a celebration of Kidd Kraddick’s ability to help others.
And now his inspiration lives on not just in the donations of others, but in the lives his organization helped change.
“This is how I know he would want to continue his legacy and a way for people to get a little bit of closure and donate to Kidd’s Kids,” said Billy the Kid.
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