kaitlin-boyda When I was 16, I was primarily preoccupied with…boys. With clothes coming in at a close second. I hate to perpetuate stereotypes, but what can I say, I was a shallow kid and am still a recovering shallow kid. So when I learned about Kaitlin, I was amazed.

Kaitlin is an example of how God uses children and youth to be His hands in this world and to teach and convict the rest of us with what faith and sacrifice look like.

Kaitlin was just a normal 16-year-old girl living in Alberta, Canada, when she was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor.

She spent a year and a half in and out of the hospital, in surgery, and in chemo. She tried to live as normal a life as possible, but her day-to-day life was punctuated by bouts of sickness and fatigue.

So when the Children’s Wish Foundation approached her to make a wish — a wish that would bring just a little relief and light into a girl’s days that were marked by trial — her wish was shocking.

Kaitlin initially thought about getting a camera or going on a family vacation, but she just didn’t feel right about any of those ideas. Ultimately, Kaitlin decided she didn’t want anything for herself, but wanted to give her wish away to help children in poverty.

Kaitlin donated the entirety of her wish to build a well in Uganda so that children there could have access to clean water.

And the faith and generosity of this young girl woke up a lot of adults.

When people heard about Kaitlin’s wish, they were inspired to follow in her footsteps. Her community held fundraisers to build more wells. People in Korea, Australia, and around the world heard about Kaitlin and donated to give even more children clean water.

Last I heard, more than $285,000 had been raised to bring clean water to children all across Africa.

It reminds me of this verse:

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”  — 1 Timothy 4:12, NIV

Kaitlin’s mom, Brenda, says it well.

“Everyone always thinks in order to change the world you have to be someone who stands out in a crowd, be the best in school or the one who wins all the races, but Kaitlin has changed the world for more than 40,000 lives just by being obedient to God.”

Certainly, Kaitlin was an example for all of us in her life, love and faith.

Kaitlin went to be with our Lord in May of this year. She clung tightly to her faith in God throughout her life. Not long before she passed away, Kaitlin said,

“Even though I don’t want to be sick, if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t have received this wish and others wouldn’t have wanted to help and all of these children wouldn’t have benefited. It is a humbling experience.

“We are only on earth for so long, and we need to make an effort for other people. It’s like we take a picture while we are here on earth — at the end of the day, what do you want the picture to look like?”

I’m thankful for the picture that Kaitlin created with her life, and I hope she will be an encouragement and a challenge to you as well!

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19 Comments Add a Comment
  1. Lindy
    Jul 28, 2011
    at 4:24 am

    Oh, yes! She certainly is an encouragement and a challenge to me!

  2. Jul 28, 2011
    at 4:38 am

    wow, amber, thank you for bringing kaitlin’s story into light. it’s a humbling reminder to live this life with our focus on the Lord. wow is all i can say.

    • justin
      Jul 28, 2011
      at 11:12 am

      Wow, it’s a great story and it really moved my heart.. Thank you Amber for writing this. We really miss you…

  3. Nina
    Jul 28, 2011
    at 6:31 am

    An amazing young lady with a heart for God and His people. I am humbled and inspired – there is more I can do. Thank you for this post. By keeping her story alive, many others will be motivated and inspired, therefore her legacy will reach even farther.

  4. Michael
    Jul 28, 2011
    at 7:46 am

    Wow, so challenged by this story of sacrificial love. Her statement of being humbled by the privilege of helping so many children at the expense of her own life. I”m just blow away by this.

  5. Kathy
    Jul 28, 2011
    at 7:55 am

    Focusing on others and their needs and taking our minds off ourselves . . . to the Glory of God! Thank you for the message and the reminder.

  6. Julie
    Jul 28, 2011
    at 9:15 am

    How inspiring! Where can US sponsors donate? Water of Life?

    • Jacquie Parella
      Jul 28, 2011
      at 12:13 pm

      Julie, if you donate to the Water of Life project the donation won’t go directly to Kaitlin’s Legacy fund but it will help provide children with safe drinking water. Here is the link to the Water of Life page on our website in case you are interested: http://water.compassion.com. Jacquie

  7. Jul 28, 2011
    at 2:30 pm

    Kaitlin lived in the same city I live in. I was inspired by her selflessness and the way you told her story will inspire others.

    She must have felt so wonderful about all the good she did. She did more good in her short life than many of us that have lived a long life.

    Thank you for writing this.


  8. Jo Anna Crawford
    Jul 28, 2011
    at 2:53 pm

    What a beautiful story of beauty from ashes. Kaitlin was a world changer even in the midst of her own pain. May many blessings flow to this family and may this story inspire more of us to be obedient to God, no matter what.

  9. Lauren
    Jul 28, 2011
    at 4:23 pm

    This is so amazing to me because she was so young, and to have such strong faith at such a young age seems to be becoming a rare thing in this world.
    This reminds me to just have faith in every day life and to not lose sight that there is something much bigger in this world.

  10. Linda Shinn
    Jul 28, 2011
    at 7:17 pm

    What a beautiful, touching story. Very inspiring…

  11. Yui
    Jul 28, 2011
    at 9:05 pm

    Such an encouraging and inspiring story. There’s no time to wait. We have to act NOW! It all starts with us. Thanks Amber for sharing a great story.

  12. Ruwanthi Sarjeevram
    Jul 29, 2011
    at 4:09 am

    “And a Child Shall Lead Them” …..

    Even in our office’s, sometimes we try to plan big. We rack our brains to see how we can impact all the children that we work with. We always want to start big. We miss out on the God-given, simply opportunity we have right in front of us, to touch ONE life.

    If you step hand in hand with the Lord, others will follow, just as Kaitlin has done. There is such a profound meaning behind the action of this beautiful child of God, its power greater than we can put to words.

    My prayer is that we too move into action, move towards that small and at times trivial task to honor God, individualy as well as a family. Honor him in the little things and you shall do great wonders.

    We too can follow Kaitlin’s example, make an unselfish wish today.

  13. Jul 29, 2011
    at 8:15 am

    It feels so unfair that there are beautiful young people with such energy and potential out there that have such faith! Sad.

  14. Kim Reurink
    Jul 29, 2011
    at 10:22 am

    Like the widow who gave a small coin in faith, God has taken a wish and taught the world a lesson in love.

  15. Brenda Boyda
    Jul 29, 2011
    at 9:42 pm

    Amber, thank you for sharing about Kaitlin’s Legacy. She was truly humbled by the generosity of others and their desire to give to this project. Kaitlin’s faith ran deep, so much so that when asked by oncology at our first meeting what they needed about her to know to treat her best, she told them that her faith is the most important thing in her life. We, her family miss her daily but are eternally grateful for having had her for 17 years. So we continue to pray that people recognize the needs of others and seek out opportunities to make a difference.

  16. Aug 2, 2011
    at 9:19 am

    Human beings are amazing tools in the Masters hands. Great testimony of what one persons can do if yielded the the Lord in total obedience. Thanks Amber!!

  17. Oct 14, 2012
    at 8:52 pm

    Kaitlin story was so inspiring, what she only wanted was to be an example to others. Even though her way of existence was short, she left an everlasting mark on people’s mind on how she changed thousands of lives in africa.

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