Nathaniel’s Hope still lives

Nathaniel's Hope still lives

Provided by Brianna Kuck

Born on June 6, 1997, his whole four years of life was spent crisscrossing the nation to and from hospitals, his family in desperate search of treatment. In 2002, Nathaniel Timothy Kuck lost his battle to multiple birth abnormalities but gained support and hope from his community proving that a life doesn’t have to end after death.In memory of Nathaniel his parents, Marie and Tim Kuck, alongside his sister, Brianna founded, Nathaniel’s Hope- a nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading the message of hope and enriching the lives of children with special needs.

Like the children that Nathaniel’s Hope facilitates to, Nathaniel was born with many special needs including Craniosynostosis Syndrome, a malformation of the skull that occurs in infancy, and Duodenal Atresia, a restriction in the digestive track.

“For four years we traveled all over the U.S. for surgeries and medical attention; it was a constant battle for his life.” Says Brianna Kuck. “But even though he had these special needs, even though he was so limited, even though he spent so much time in and out of the hospital and therapy sessions, he was a little bundle of joy.”

Brianna was only nine years old when she lost her brother Nathaniel but despite the traumatic loss, she only recounts the good times spent with him.

“Though he couldn’t walk, talk, or eat with his mouth, his smile was killer. He was definitely a precious little guy that didn’t need words to speak. His smile spoke for him.” Says Brianna.

Ten years later after Nathaniel’s passing, Brianna is a 19-year-old college student studying Communications at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida.

She strives to keep her brother’s memory alive and is very active in Nathaniel’s Hope as she is the organization’s volunteer coordinator, stage manager, and the administrative assistant for Make ‘M Smile- an event held on the first Saturday of June in honor of Nathaniel’s birthday.

This year marks the 10th year of Nathaniel’s Hope being in operation and serving the community and the numbers of volunteers and children (known as VIP’s) that attend the events immensely increase with every passing year.

Nathaniel’s Hope offers a variety of programs and events celebrating and helping VIP’s and their families. Some of the programs include:

Buddy Break- operating in 42 churches across the nation, Buddy Break provides safe and exciting hangout time between VIP kids and their buddies (screened volunteers who are just there to have fun with the VIP’s).

Caroling for Kids- set up in two teams, families, friends, and volunteers visit hospitalized children or bedbound children bearing gifts, goodies, and songs all for the purpose of uplifting spirits during the holidays.

Make ‘M Smile- an annual, free of charge festival featuring a Buddy Stroll around Lake Eola, is full of fun, food, entertainment, and prizes in remembrance of Nathaniel’s birthday. This year’s Make ‘M Smile occurring June 2, plans to break their own record as Nathaniel’s Hope expects 12,000 in attendance, 2,000 of those being VIP kids.

“Nathaniel’s Hope has helped kids with special needs feel accepted – it has given them a place to belong! They are excited for our programs. At our programs, people will love them just the way they are.” Says Brianna. “Nathaniel’s life and death is a testimony that there is purpose to every life.”