There is something special about companies that support military families. Even more extraordinary are the companies that go above and beyond to make life better for military kids. The story of how Costco and Kids Healthy Foods have gone the extra mile for this Air Force family whose daughter is battling cancer, is enough to make you run to become a Costco member so you too can purchase Kirkland Organic Juice Boxes!
Meet Military Child, Charlie
Charlie is a precious 3-year old, military child living in Texas with her family where her father, Major Matthew Kowalski, is stationed at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland as the 341st Training Squadron commander.
You don’t even have to know Charlie personally to see how much she loves her family. Her face lights up when she’s with her dad. Her heart overflows with love for her mama, Sarah. Charlie and her big brother, Jackson, have a priceless bond. One of her favorite parts of the day is getting up early to watch him get on the school bus so she can wave until it is out of sight.
Simply scrolling through photos of Charlie smiling is sure to make you smile.
The word that is most often used to describe military children is “resilient.” Resilient most definitely defines one aspect of Charlie’s, life even at age three. You see this is the part of her life where she is currently fighting cancer.
On December 23, 2019, Charlie was diagnosed with stage 2 embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma.
What is embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma?
Eleanor Chen, M.D., Ph.D., at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts explains that embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma (ERMS) “is a malignant soft tissue tumor that is formed from embryonic skeletal muscle tissue, the type of tissue that grows into skeletal muscles. When we think about skeletal muscles, we might first think of biceps or hamstrings, but embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma doesn’t usually start in the arms or legs. Most often, we see tumors in the head or neck, bladder, or reproductive organs.”
ERMS usually affects children in their first 5 years of life. Children with embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma usually receive several different treatments that work together, including chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation.
Charlie’s tumor hooks from her front sinus, into the back sinus, and up into an open space of her skull between her left eye and her brain. Unfortunately, the location of her tumor affects Charlie’s ability to taste food and drinks.
Most parents have battled a picky eating phase with their child at some point. Whether your child only wants to eat chicken nuggets or is solidly avoiding anything that is green, meals can become a challenge with a picky eater in the house. But most parents aren’t trying to get their child to eat while battling through chemo.
For Charlie, combining the effects of the tumor on her ability to taste with the loss of appetite that comes with chemotherapy.
How did Costco and Kids Healthy Foods help Charlie?
The only thing Charlie consistently requests from her parents is Kirkland Organic Juice Boxes from Costco. Even more specifically, Charlie requested only the red-topped fruit punch juice boxes.
If you are already a Costco shopper, then you likely know that all of their juice boxes come in large quantity multiflavor packs. So the downfall to Charlie’s specific request is that this beloved juice only comes in assorted flavor packs of 40, where there are only 10 red-topped fruit punch juice boxes the pack.
“For our daughter we would go to the ends of the earth, so if that means buying a pack of 40 juices for 10 boxes so be it!” Charlie’s mom, Sarah said. “Our poor son Jackson is left to pick up the slack and drink the rest of the boxes, and he is more than happy to, although he may float away from the amount of juice he needs to drink!”
A Special Request
The red-topped fruit punch became vital. Charlie drinks the juice for everything needed in her treatment. She drinks the fruit punch when she has to take medicine, for hydration during and after chemotherapy, and with all of her meals.
Sarah and Matt thought there had to be a better way to purchase just the fruit punch. Major Kowalski took to writing an email to Costco customer service. He explained how important the juice was in Charlie’s life and to see if there was a way to buy just the red fruit punch flavor of the Kirkland Organic Juice Boxes in bulk.
Costco customer service replies
Costco amazed the Kowalskis with their response. Not only did they reply to Matt’s email within a couple days, but they immediately said they would like to help and would reach out to their distributor and have them contact us directly.
Shortly after Costco’s response, the Kowalskis received a phone call from the distributor, Kids Healthy Foods in California. Brothers Jeff and Lance McClelland are the owners of Kids Healthy Foods and they are also fathers of 6 children.
Immediately Kids Healthy Foods stepped up and said they also wanted to help!
Kids Healthy Foods: How much do you need?
Not only would they specially pack juice for Charlie, but they would send as much as Charlie needed for FREE!
Sarah and Matt were stunned by the response!
The only question Kids Healthy Foods asked was, “How much do you need?” Major Kowalski said they would happily pay for it, but Kids Healthy Foods refused and explained they want to help.
Within a couple of days of that contact, 200 boxes of red-topped Kirkland Organic Fruit Punch Juice Boxes comes carefully packed to Charlie’s front door! (Check out the videos of Charlie and her Dad, Major Matthew Kowalski, opening the packages on Sarah’s Facebook page!)
Inside the package, Kids Healthy Foods included a pink bear for Charlie and a note to Matt saying that whenever Charlie needed more juice to let them know and it would be on its way!
Great kindness deserves great praise
In a world where the dollar reigns supreme, a story of such kindness from not one, but two companies is beyond noteworthy.
None of these people from Costco or Kids Healthy Foods know the Kowalski family, but they jumped into action to help their young daughter fight her cancer.
Sarah and Matt are asking you now to please show Costco and Kids Healthy Foods some love!
Please share this story! Send it around on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, wherever you can.
They need to be recognized for their kindness and willingness to go the extra mile for their customers. Oh, and maybe swing by your local Costco and pick up a 40 pack of the Kirkland Organic Fruit Juice – they are delicious!
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