Close to the Heart: Stephens House Helps Colin’s Kids

Stephens House has taken on a service project close to the heart – Colin’s Kids. The nonprofit provides funding to advance medical research related to congenital heart disease (CHD) as well as financial and other support services to families of children born with this birth defect. It was co-founded in 2010 by the families of Colin Molloy and Andrew King, boys born with CHD. Sadly, Colin passed away after only 47 days. Thankfully, Andrew is the happy, healthy little brother to Carolyn King ’20, now dedicated to helping others with CHD.
 
Carolyn, the Stephens House Community Service Representative, has led House efforts to support Colin’s Kids this year. The girls held fundraisers on Halloween and Valentine’s Day, with money helping to support research grants at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia Medical Center in New York City – home to the NICU where Colin and Andrew were born – and more recently Duke University. According to Nancy King (mom to Caroline and Andrew), the nonprofit awards three annual grants. Two $5,000 Andrew King Awards are given to Fellows and one $10,000 Colin Molloy Award is presented to senior researchers, all affiliated with the New York-Presbyterian Hospital’s Graduate Medical Education program. Three awardees have gone on to earn RO1 grants from the National Institutes of Health. “Now, more and more doctors are doing [CHD] research at Columbia,” said Nancy. “They say we have transformed their research department.”
 
Carolyn agreed, saying, “It’s crazy to think that, even though we are a small organization, we’ve been able to draw attention to an issue that we know is really important.”
 
She added, “Babies continue to be born with heart defects and we are hopeful there can be a future where CHDs can be treated more easily. We’re so grateful that Andrew was born at a time when he had the privilege of having access to life-saving treatment and we want that for every family.”
 
Colin’s Kids also take a warm and fuzzy approach to patient support – handmade fleece blankets. Carolyn has been making blankets since she was in third grade and brought the project to Lawrenceville. First to Dawes House as a Second Former, then to Stephens (and the entire School) with her Colin’s Kids Club. The Stephens girls spent Lawrenceville’s MLK Day of Service making blankets, destined for the patients and their families at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia Medical Center.
 
The idea for the blankets began when Andrew was in the hospital, undergoing surgery at just four days old to correct his CHD, Transposition of the Great Arteries. It was during this stressful time that the Kings received the anonymous gift in the hospital of a hand crocheted blanket. “It was just amazing to know there was someone out there who spent the time making a blanket – someone who didn’t know us but who was thinking about our situation and wanted to do something kind for us,” Carolyn said. Hospitals, she explained, do all that they can to support patients but “it’s still not home. I think that these blankets bring a piece of home and a lot of support and warmth to families who are going through a hard time. It helps them not feel alone during what can be a very lonely time.”
 
Working on the project with her “Stephens sisters,” Carolyn said, “means so, so much.” By sharing her story, she explained, “The girls have learned a lot about me and my experiences and that’s what the House system is all about – connecting and getting to know different people. It’s been really cool for me to be able to be vulnerable about what was a really scary time for me and my family, and  also to have fun together for a good cause.”
 
For additional information, please contact Lisa M. Gillard Hanson, director of Public Relations, at lgillard@lawrenceville.org.
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