DAVENPORT — It was the busiest of delivery days, but even the FedEx driver took the time to stop and talk about the cause.
On a sunlit Saturday just before Christmas, seven girls, two moms and Santa made a difference in honor of someone who had been near and dear to them all.
The girls — Gianna D'Aprile, Peyton Elliott, Lauren Elliott, Gabrielle Elliott, Makenna Posten, Camryn Menke and Erin Robbins — opened a hot cocoa stand and raised $1,000 in honor of the late Will Kohn.
The girls sold warm beverages and a bevy homemade treats with the hope of raising $450 for the National T.T.T. Society, a not-for-profit organization that provides weeklong camping opportunities for girls who might not otherwise have such an experience.
The National T.T.T. Society is based out of Mount Pleasant, Iowa. Moms Shannon Elliott and Katy D'Aprile, the co-chaperones of the fundraising day, brought the idea to the group, and it met with overwhelming approval.
The hot cocoa stand is a Jersey Farms neighborhood tradition, started several years ago to benefit the late Kohn, who was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a birth defect in which the left side of the heart — the area that pumps oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body — is underdeveloped.
Born in November 2010, Will, who was the first patient moved into the Stead Family Children's Hospital at the University of Iowa, died in January 2018. Katy D'Aprile and her husband, Jamie, who live in the Jersey Farms subdivision, were Will's godparents.
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"This began with benefiting Will, and it continues in his memory to do good for others making a difference,'' Katy D'Aprile said, lauding the work of the seven girls and Shannon Elliott. "So many wonderful people got involved with doing all they could to assist the family in its fight to keep Will with us. The girls — all who adored him — have taken a fundraising idea each year, tried to make a difference somewhere, but do it in honor of Will, and the lasting and loving impression he left on us all.''
With smiling approval from Shannon Ellliott, Katy D'Aprile said the group doubling its goal of $450 (plus $100) was a result of hard work and the girls taking the message to the public. Word of mouth, social media and sincerity made the day the success it was.
"The amount of work is what makes you proud,'' she said. "They were committed to the project from start to finish. They did a great job of staying focused and making the day. They had fun, but they were determined. Santa (Jamie D'Aprile), I might add, played a big role. What an ambassador he was.''
And the FedEx driver?
"His busiest day of the year,'' Katy D'Aprile said. "We knew it, and he said as much. You know he is in a hurry, but he stops; he asks questions; he talks with the girls, buys a hot cocoa, and gives $20 to the cause. He was so taken with the effort and wanted to understand what the day was about.''
Katy D'Aprile understands time may change things for this group of girls, but she thinks a day every year in honor of Will Kohn will be a continuing tradition.
"It's just a feeling, but I believe they will find a way as they grow of making this a reunion kind of thing,'' she said. "Just a feeling.''
A good feeling resulting from a great day of honoring someone who was near and dear to many.
Columnist John Marx can be reached at 309-757-8388 or email@example.com.