A York County teen had a rough couple of years. She spent a lot of time in and out of the hospital. Now she’s spreading smiles to kids who are still there.
At 13, Katelyn Fager was hospitalized with appendicitis and a nasty infection.
“I had to learn how to walk again in the hospital,” she said, “I had to learn how to keep my food down, go to the bathroom, everything like I was a little kid.” But she did find some comfort. “I would do anything and everything not to walk because it hurt so bad,” she said, “But the bag of smiles I thought was just fantastic.”
“Caitlin’s Smiles” puts together bags full of arts and crafts for sick kids. Cheryl Hornung started Caitlin Smiles in 2004 after her daughter, Caitlin, died of cancer. She says Caitlin would run to the playroom for crayons and coloring books. “Learning from Caitlin, I just felt it was real important to provide other children in the hospital with the same opportunity,” Hornung said.
Now 18-years-old, Katelyn Fager spent her senior year putting together more than 100 bags of smiles. “Katelyn in my mind is a true hero and leader,” said Hornung.
Fager never got to see the results of her hard work. “That was something that I definitely wanted to do but I never had the chance,” she said.
Until now. Fager and Hornung delivered a bag to a 4-year-old girl at York Hospital. “Kids get that reaction everyday that we don’t get to see,” Fager said, “That’s the fun of it. They’re out there smiling every single day from us.” And that makes Cheryl smile.
“How neat, another Katelyn to carry on the legacy,” she said. Fager’s senior project may be finished, but Katelyn is not finished with Caitlin Smiles. She says she will continue to volunteer with the organization. She also plans to head to York College this fall to major in medicine.