(SACRAMENTO)

Kaileia Boudinot was never an early riser. But one morning in July 2021, the 6-year-old woke with a start. It was 6 a.m. Her mom Sarah was caught off guard.

“My daughter is not a morning person,” Sarah Boudinot said. “Not only was she awake, but she was up. It was unusual.”

Kaileia’s history of health issues is always front of mind for her mom. On this day, though, it was her daughter’s desire to help other patients that compelled Kaileia to hop out of bed so early.

“I am going to set up a lemonade stand for other kids in the hospital,” Kaileia told her mom. “I want them to have some toys to play with like I had when I was there.”

After hospital stays in the UC Davis NICU and PICU, Kaileia Boudinot is now a healthy, happy girl, who just turned 7 on October 4.

Diagnosed at birth with duodenal atresia – a closure in the first part of the small intestine that prevents the passage of milk and digestive fluids – Kaileia had immediate surgery at UC Davis Children’s Hospital and spent time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Six months later, she was back in the hospital, this time to fix a ventricular septal defect – a heart defect due to an abnormal connection between the lower chambers of the heart. She underwent a patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) closure to fix a hole in her heart. This time, Kaileia was a patient in the Pediatric and Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (PICU/PCICU).

“It was so terrifying. So much was happening,” Boudinot said. “We spent so much time in the hospital. Thank goodness we had such amazing support. We could not be more grateful.”

Fast forward six years to that sunny summer morning. Kaileia awoke with that same gratitude in her mended heart. So, she and her brother, Brian, set about making lemonade out of lemons to raise funds for other sick and injured children at UC Davis Children’s Hospital. They made posters, decorated and got the lemonade ready. Their impromptu fundraiser was underway.

“People were so generous. There wasn’t a lot of traffic and so we didn’t sell much lemonade, but people gave money anyway,” Boudinot said. “It wasn’t a lot, but they embraced the idea and seemed to know how important it was to Kaileia to help other children during their hospital stay. It was really touching.”

This now healthy, active gymnast and dancer who is “too fancy for soccer,” just turned 7 on Oct. 4 and has a prognosis for a long and healthy life. Although this lemonade stand may have been a first, Kaileia’s heart for fundraising will continue.

“Giving back to UC Davis Children’s Hospital will be a lifelong activity for Kaileia and our family,” Sarah Boudinot said. “Living through this experience made us realize just how lucky we are to have had such incredible care available for our daughter.”