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Kassie Lynn Wingerd “Ladybug”, was born in February of 1998 and lived near a small town in Michigan. Throughout elementary and middle school, Kassie had a passion for musical theatre and choir. She attended theatre camps each summer to learn to sing and dance. She was a leader in her school choir and loved singing for her family at home. Some of her favorite artists were Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, The Jonas Brothers and Bridgit Mendler. She loved being around children and animals, including her beloved pets Rosie and Zoey. Kassie had a close group of friends that she held close to her heart. She had an optimistic attitude and loved having all the spotlight on her. However, in 2008, Kassie’s life took an unexpected turn. Kassie learned she was diagnosed with leukemia at only 10 years old. Fortunately she recovered well and was in remission for over 3 years. Throughout those 3 years, Kassie lived her life to its fullest potential. She made every day count by loving herself and taking every opportunity handed her way. However, in September of 2011, Kassie relapsed. Her leukemia came back harder than before. She only attended the first two days of eighth grade before spending the rest of her life in the hospital. Hours before a bone marrow transplant, Kassie passed away from leukemia on October 24th, 2011 at only 13 years old.

Kassie's Story

"Even at 13 years old, Kassie ignored her cancer for a long time. As in, she took her cancer very seriously and lived a very full life."

Love for Ladybug's Impact

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Meet Reilly Cardella

     I became best friends with Kassie when I was 11 years old; we bonded through our passion for the performing arts. Throughout our few years of friendship, I learned that Kassie was battling leukemia. At that age, I didn't fully understand the severity of her cancer, or what it really was. After only 2 years of inseparable friendship, Kassie lost her battle to leukemia at 13 years old.

 

     Throughout the rest of high school, I anxiously wanted to make a difference for the childhood cancer community. I carried such heavy grief while mourning her loss, and wanted to translate that negative energy to positive change; to guarantee no person would once again deal with the pain of losing a child to cancer. In high school, it was hard for me to process my ideas because it was still too painful. However, in May of 2020, I finally took initiative to create this non-profit organization in honor of Kassie, titled “Love for Ladybug.” Kassie’s family nickname was “ladybug” and quickly became a symbol of hope for myself, her family and friends. Because Kassie had such a positive attitude, I remind myself to keep this charity as positive as possible to uphold her optimistic legacy, while still acknowledging there is nothing positive about cancer. This is where our famous saying "#PositivityForPediatricCancer" comes from.

 

     Love for Ladybug focuses on hosting fundraising events in Central Florida in order to send care packages to kids fighting cancer worldwide. Sick children should still live an exciting childhood despite medical disadvantages. I’m using my abilities as a performer, educator and mentor to create heartfelt memories. By sharing sing-a-longs and story time as Elsa, or sending care packages full of their favorite toys, I can help distract their lives in a positive direction for a few short moments. Check out our "Care Package" page to see how many packages we have sent so far! In October 2020, Kassie's 9 year angelversary in heaven, we hosted a fundraiser raising $805 in donations that went directly to creating/sending care packages. Not only do I want to raise donations for care packages, but it is also a priority for us to donate to research organizations such as The American Childhood Cancer Organization and St Jude's Children Hospital; and most importantly, we must make legislative change to get more funding for pediatric cancer. 

 

     I am so inspired by the childhood cancer community who are fighting their illnesses with positivity, strength, and the passion to make the most of every day. They live their lives fully vulnerable with no regrets, while single handedly inspiring the people around them. I am so honored to stand beside these courageous kids and fight for a cure for all pediatric cancer! Love for Ladybug will forever be known in Kassie's honor.

Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Love for Ladybug

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Meet the Team

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Melanie Wyatt

Vice President & Co-Event Planner

Melanie has been working in the events industry for over 5 years. She received her Bachelor's Degree from the University of Central Florida in Marketing Communications and Event Planning and Design. Melanie runs her own dance company, Dancing Little Stars Palm Beach/Brevard County, teaching dance to children. Love for Ladybug is close to her heart because of how much she loves children, and it is her goal to do everything possible to help children and their families in need!

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Mollie is 21 years old and a current BFA student at Eastern Michigan University for Musical Theatre and Dance. Her interest for Love for Ladybug: Positivity for Pediatric Cancer stems from her sister’s relationship with Kassie. She understands how difficult it can be for siblings to watch their siblings go through immense hardship. Mollie works on promoting social media content and fundraising campaigns. Because of her personal experience to Kassie, she is devoted to bringing the "childhood" back to childhood cancer. 

Mollie Cardella

Assistant Director

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Caitlyn Schuler

Committee Member

Caitlyn was born and raised in Southeast Michigan. She is a first time mom who recently separated from the military. She is in the process of earning her Bachelor's Degree in Health Administration! "I am excited and eager to be working for Love for Ladybug because not only do I want to make a HUGE impact, bring positivity and awareness in the cancer community, but I want to honor my best friend, Kassie, by bringing light and happiness into families that are going through similar situations like Kassie went through."

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Elizabeth Melachrinoudis

Treasurer & Fundraising Coordinator

Elizabeth is an extremely passionate cancer advocate after losing both her parents to cancer when she was 17 and 20. From her advocacy, she has become the Director of "Hero" Recruitment for Marrow Mates, Inc. She is also the Marrow and Stem Cell Courier for the National Marrow Donor Program! At only 22 years old, Elizabeth has earned her BA in Criminology & Sociology, as well as studying for her Masters in Nonprofit Administration at Louisiana State University.

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Allie Mickevicius

Marketing Coordinator

Allie graduated from Siena Heights University in Adrian, Michigan where she double majored in Business Administration and Theatre and cannot wait to get involved & create meaningful content for the Love for Ladybug family! Allie has become a huge cancer advocate after having her own close call with ovarian cancer. She also feels a very personal connection to Love for Ladybug as she went to grade school with Kassie. She is so excited to be a ray of sunshine for those who need it!

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Lilly Wray

Videographer & Marketing Assistant

Lilly is a 16 year old student at Oviedo High School. She is part of their WROR-TV news program, with 4 years experience in digital media. With her digital resume, Lilly will create content for our website and social media. Her family are board members of "Oviedo Jeep Club" that meet monthly for social gatherings, all while donating & fundraising for local nonprofits. Her passion for helping others is a driving force in her commitment to Love for Ladybug. Lilly is dedicated to doing all she can to brighten the lives of children with cancer.

Thank you, Kassie, for continuing to shine your positive light on the world. Your story has inspired us to create our organization and send a message about kids with cancer. Your memory lives with us forever.