Birthdays are very special to the Richmond family. Their daughter, Kelli, had only three after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at age 27.
Since Kelli’s passing, the Richmonds have kept her legacy alive through her foundation, the Kelli Leigh Richmond Ovarian Cancer Foundation. Every month, the foundation provides a $1,000 grant to an ovarian cancer patient. These grants are called Birthday Wishes, and many Woman’s Hospital patients have received them.
“When we were trying to decide what our foundation could do for ovarian cancer patients, we remembered that most ovarian cancer patients have about two birthdays left from the time they are diagnosed,” said Kelli’s father, Ron. “That’s why we started the monthly birthday wishes.”
So far, the foundation has granted nearly $40,000 in Birthday Wishes. Every wish is special to Ron and his wife, Patsy, but the very first recipient touched them the most. Ron knew the recipient through his dentist’s office; she was the manager. When Ron and Patsy decided to start granting Birthday Wishes, they heard that both the woman and her mother were diagnosed with ovarian cancer within two weeks of each other. Ron wanted to surprise her with a Birthday Wish, and he was hoping her birthday would be soon.
“Don’t you know that her birthday was about eight days from the time that we decided to start the Birthday Wishes!” Ron said.
The Richmonds keep in touch with many of the Birthday Wish recipients, often visiting them in the hospital during their treatments.
The foundation also provides free clothing for cancer patients. While undergoing cancer treatment, Kelli met a woman whose clothes were too large because she had lost so much weight during chemo. Kelli wanted to open a store where cancer patients could get free clothes as their weight fluctuates. Kelli’s Kloset is now open near Cancer Services of Baton Rouge.
“I know our beautiful Kel-Bel is dancing in Heaven and sharing all the news with her Heavenly friends about the Kelli Leigh Richmond Ovarian Cancer Foundation and Kelli’s Kloset,” Ron said. “There is no doubt in my mind that Kelli is really the one in charge and guiding her foundation just like she took charge of everything and everyone while she was here on earth. She just passed her torch to me when God called her home for a more important job in Heaven.”
Though she has been gone for nearly five years, Kelli is still helping cancer patients at Woman’s — from bringing them joy on their birthday, to helping them look and feel beautiful, to simply uplifting their spirits while in the hospital. “Kelli’s Window” on the Oncology floor overlooks Woman’s lake, and as patients and their families pass the beautiful view, they are reminded of Kelli’s amazing outlook on life.
To learn of ways you can give and volunteer, click here.