Celebrating 18 Years of the KATA Foundation

There’s nothing quite like the fierce determination of parents who have a child affected by Fanconi anemia. Our founders had three daughters with FA and to this day, the majority of our funding comes from FA family communities. One such family community from Colorado has been working on this cause for nearly 20 years and has raised an outstanding $3.1 million for FA research. 

The Kendall and Taylor Atkinson Foundation (KATA) was founded in 2006 in memory of Kendall and Taylor, a brother and sister diagnosed with FA in 1990 at the ages of three and seven. Their mom and KATA co-founder Jeanne Atkinson shares, “Their diagnosis was an agonizing blow which led to a whirlwind of uncertainty, information gathering, and decision-making. We were told that without a bone marrow transplant they would not likely live to adulthood. Our lives were forever changed.” 

The Atkinson Family

Kendall was in college in 2004 when she received her transplant with an unrelated, mismatched donor. Tragically, the transplant protocol proved too toxic, and Kendall died four weeks later. 

Just a year later, high school senior Taylor received his transplant. 106 days later, Taylor presented with graft-versus-host disease, where the donor cells were attacking his own cells. Taylor died nine months later. 

To honor their children’s memory and help others with FA live longer and better lives, Ken and Jeanne Atkinson began the KATA Foundation. Surrounded by an incredible team of dedicated volunteers, they have consistently raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to support research every year. Their signature event, a country-western gala appropriately dubbed “Hoot N Holler” brought hundreds together in support of the cause, and other events like the Art Howe Golf Scramble, Barn Dinner, and Hope Floats Wish Boat Launch, showcased the fun-loving creativity of the community and its spirit of generosity. 

After Ken’s unexpected and tragic death in 2016, the community continued to rally around the family and their mission to better the lives of those with FA. The impact of this Colorado group on the FA community is undeniable. 

Since Kendall and Taylor underwent transplant 20 years ago, outcomes have significantly improved thanks to research funded by FCF and the KATA Foundation. KATA has supported cancer prevention studies, the development of preclinical models, the head and neck cancer trial, and most recently, the gene editing project, among many other projects. 

This year, after decades of volunteer-driven fundraising and support, the KATA Foundation will hang up its proverbial hat and officially ‘call it a night’. While KATA will no longer host their events, their legacy and impact will carry on with the establishment of the KATA Fund within the Fanconi Cancer Foundation, a dedicated fund to advance FA research. 

We are endlessly grateful to the Atkinson family and the entire KATA community, whose years of effort and support have made a true, lasting difference. Thank you. 

Learn more about the KATA Fund at the Fanconi Cancer Foundation or support the fund here.

Categories: Stories, Fundraising

Previous ArticleNext Article