A young, gracious and giving heart

10-year-old Kalli Ramaker's resilience and readiness to give back help young heart patients recuperate

Kalli Ramaker and her family hold art show fundraiser for children's hospital

Kalli Ramaker is passionate about lots of things. Her family, soccer and art are at the top of her list, and in that order.

So imagine how the 10-year-old from Oostburg, Wisconsin, felt last summer when doctors told her she had to hang up her cleats for good. "I felt like I was broken," Kalli says.

Kalli was born with a genetic abnormality that affects the soft tissues of her body, including her aorta. As an infant, she successfully underwent surgery, and for the next 8½ years she lived life like a typical youngster.

But things quickly changed. Doctors discovered her aorta was enlarged and stretching. After monitoring her closely for a year and a half, doctors restricted Kalli from playing contact sports late last summer.

"I wanted the kids to have some joy while they were going through tough times." - Kalli Ramaker

Her parents, Andy and Kim, admit that was a tough pill for Kalli to swallow. But mature beyond her years, Kalli decided to focus on the gifts and talents she could use. Like her love for art.

Sharing her passion – and art

After a family devotional, Kalli told her mom that she "felt like God was laying it on my heart to hold an art show to benefit Children's Hospital (in Milwaukee)," Kalli recalls. This was a children's hospital Kalli knew all too well. "I wanted the kids to have some joy while they were going through tough times."

To help Kalli's dream come true, the Ramakers' Thrivent Financial representative, Greg Dirkse, encouraged them to lead a Thrivent Action Team to help buy supplies and promote the art show around their community and at their church. Roughly 15 of their friends and family members volunteered to lend a hand.

And one evening in October, their efforts paid off. About 250 community and church members came out to take a peek at Kalli's creations. They also opened their wallets.

Sales of Kalli's watercolor paintings, melted crayon art and pastel drawings brought in nearly $4,000 – enough for the Ramakers and their team to purchase mini electronic tablets, gift cards, infant seats and bouncers, onesies, art supplies, Legos, dolls, movies and blankets for young patients at the Herma Heart Center at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin.

Memories that move hearts

The Ramakers were astounded by their community's generosity and have heartfelt memories of the event. Kalli's was "seeing the amount of donations and knowing how many kids were going to be blessed by it."

Kim was amazed by the "overwhelming support of our community for Kalli and our family."

Andy summed it up this way: "That evening was about the kids at Children's. But without us knowing it, it was also a night for healing our family."

Two ways to spread joy, do good

Want to bring joy to others or support a cause you care about in your community? Thrivent Action Teams make it easy for you to bring together a team of volunteers to give back and make an impact for causes you care about. Find out how a Thrivent Action Team can help you power your passion to take action!

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