A Kid Again launches its big plans for new chapters

 

After more than 20 years and serving more than 50,000 children and their family members, A Kid Again is going national. The nonprofit hosts free events for families who have a child with a life-threatening illness.

A Kid Again started in Columbus, later adding Cincinnati and Cleveland chapters. But there was a demand for even more.

“We have families from all over the United States who contact us and want us to start chapters,” says board member Poe Timmons, who helped co-founder Jeffrey Damron execute his original idea.

A Kid Again is unique. No one else congregates the entire family periodically throughout the year, which also provides an ongoing support system. And this felt like the right time to grow.

“We literally decided to expand and started to expand in a two- to three-month period,” she says.

Off to a good start

A Kid Again hired President and CEO Oyauma Garrison in 2017. A 20-year veteran of the insurance industry, Garrison has experience managing growth.

“When my daughter fell ill on Oct. 1, 2016, it literally changed my world and opened up a new perspective around balance in life,” he says of his career change.

An Indiana chapter based in Indianapolis is already up and running through relationships with Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital and Riley’s Children’s Hospital.

Indiana was a good place to start because it was nearby, places like Kings Island were willing to donate more tickets, and a former board member had moved to Indianapolis, Timmons says.

A Kid Again is planning to open four new chapters in 2019, Garrison says. One of those will be Philadelphia.

A smart strategy

Nationwide and a few other companies are helping develop the nonprofit’s expansion strategy. They’re stress-testing it to make sure the new markets are sustainable.

“We just finalized our 2025 strategic plan. So, we’re going pretty audacious and pretty bold with respect to what the organization is going to look like, as well as what we intend to accomplish,” Garrison says.

While the new chapters will report to Columbus for now, they’ll eventually operate more like affiliates.

“We want to provide this service, but we have to do it in a very timely and methodical way,” Garrison says. “And that’s what we’re doing — we are really vetting out our process, our operations, to make certain that every market we enter into, we know we’re going to be there forever.”

 

Wrapping services around the family

A Kid Again provides recreation and therapeutic experiences, but is often asked about other things. “Who should we go to for therapy?” “Where can we get financial help?” “How do I go back to work?”

Garrison hopes to formalize this process so A Kid Again can be a better resource. He also wants to ensure that when families contact another nonprofit and say, “I am with A Kid Again,” they’re taken as a priority.