Seal of Little Rock

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE :
Tuesday, Feb 09, 2016

City of Little Rock Public Relations
Office (501) 371-4421


Media Releases

Contact(s): Jennifer Godwin | jgodwin@littlerock.gov | (o) 501 371 4421 | (c) 501 804 4822


Animal Village the Spot for Special Birthday

Big Party Planned for Young Girl Facing Major Surgery  

A special little girl will get an extra special birthday party this Saturday at the Little Rock Animal Village. Katherine, who is turning 11, has cerebral palsy. Her birthday wish is to have a big celebration filled with the things she loves: animals, princesses, and family and friends.

Send a cardThose who want to send Katherine a birthday message can mail a birthday or Valentine’s Day card to her at the Little Rock Animal Village, 4500 Kramer St., Little Rock, AR 72204. The hope is that Katherine receives hundreds, if not thousands, of well-wishes for her big day.

Her mother, Lisa, and sister, Anna, both work for the City of Little Rock. Anna, who is with the Animal Services division of Housing and Neighborhood Programs, came up with the idea to throw her little sister a party at the Animal Village.

Katherine was born with seizures, but it took months to figure out what was happening because of their sporadic nature. She was eventually diagnosed with epilepsy and cerebral palsy.

A description and not a condition. That’s what the doctor told Lisa about her daughter’s diagnosis, which has left her unable to walk, fully talk, or eat. Katherine, despite all of the trials she has gone through in her short life, is a happy, buoyant, expressive child. She attends elementary school, loves the pool at the Jim Dailey Fitness and Aquatic Center, looks up to her two big sisters, and takes her dog, Freda, on walks, grabbing the leash in one hand, ready to roll. Freda stays right by Katherine’s side the entire walk.

“We were told if the children don’t walk by 7, they most likely will never walk.  So that was a hard age for me to get through,” Lisa said. “You try not to lose hope for your children, but in the loss of hope, you gain acceptance and start gearing your house and life to possibilities on the future.” katherine with freda

Part of that acceptance included figuring out basic needs such as making their house accessible. Lisa attended classes offered by the Grants division of the City’s Finance Department, led by Caran Curry. It was there that Lisa applied for – and received – a grant for a wheelchair ramp at their house. Now, her family is renovating the home to remove all of the carpeting. And Katherine has the best room, Lisa said. 

The City of Little Rock has become part of the extended family for them, Lisa said, along with the churches, doctors, and educators who all look out for Katherine.

Besides the family outings with Freda, Katherine loves to be around animals, including the ones at the Little Rock Zoo. In December, the family visited to enjoy the lights and music, which Lisa said made Katherine’s night. The Zoo’s train, the Diamond Express, is wheelchair-accessible, so Katherine got a front-row seat with a prime view of all of the lights to marvel at.

The idea to throw Katherine a big birthday party started small, with Anna suggesting the Animal Village for the celebration. Katherine will have an 11-hour surgery next month at Arkansas Children’s Hospital to help mitigate the severe scoliosis that she has developed. Once word of that got out to a few key people at the City of Little Rock, the birthday became a bigger event, with music, entertainment, a doggy fashion show, and a cake planned. 

While no birthday is complete without presents, Katherine wants any gifts to go to the dogs and cats at the Little Rock Animal Village. Her family is encouraging anyone who wants to celebrate Katherine’s birthday to join them at the Animal Village from 1 – 3 p.m Saturday, Feb. 13. 

Those who want to send Katherine a birthday message can mail a birthday or Valentine’s Day card to her at the Little Rock Animal Village, 4500 Kramer St., Little Rock, AR 72204. The hope is that Katherine receives hundreds, if not thousands, of well-wishes for her big day.