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Kayla’s Hope Foundation was created by Hans, Ruthie and Hannah Lehmann of Saint Charles, IL in loving memory of their beautiful daughter and sister, Kayla Brooke Lehmann (April 5, 2003- April 7, 2018). The Foundation has been established to provide financial support to mental health organizations as well as scholarships to graduating high school seniors with a passion for music and literature.
Kayla Brooke Lehmann was born on April 5, 2003 in Bloomington, Indiana to Hans and Ruthie Lehmann. One year later they moved to Northern Virginia. While in Northern Virginia, Kayla attended Hillside Elementary School. There she made many good friends who inspired her greatly. The family moved to St. Charles, IL when Kayla was in third grade and she attended Bell Graham Elementary School. Kayla was an avid reader who would rather read than anything else – going through a book in a couple days. She loved to write and was considered by a few of her teachers as one of the best writers they had ever had. Always wanting to be in the advanced classes, Kayla worked hard and succeeded. She had hopes of becoming an editor one day. Kayla also loved playing the violin. She started to play in fourth grade and continued into high school. While at Thompson Middle School, Kayla played in the Pro Arte Ensemble as well as the Electric Ensemble. Through these ensembles, Kayla was able to use her creativity and sometimes improvise which was what she enjoyed the most. She continued to play while attending St. Charles East High School and joined the Sinfonia Orchestra at the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra. Kayla shined when she played. It was truly a gift. She was truly a gift.
During elementary school Kayla played basketball for the St. Charles Storm League from fourth through eighth grade. During her time at Thompson Middle School she played basketball from seventh through eighth grade. She also ran on the TMS cross country and track teams. Kayla enjoyed watching the University of Kentucky basketball games as well as Notre Dame football games. The best memories of Kayla were always with family or good friends. She was extremely close with her sister, Hannah. They both had a love for penguins, had huge imaginations, and were always together acting silly. Kayla and Hannah were truly best friends. Kayla had a small group of fantastic friends that would always make her laugh with “The Office”, “Grey’s Anatomy”, and “Friends” being some of their favorite shows. Kayla loved to laugh and when she did it was so beautiful. She also loved alternative music, constantly listening to Panic at the Disco, Nirvana, Green Day and Sleeping with Sirens.
Kayla loved being with family and she loved to travel. The week before her death the family went to Maui, Hawaii which was her favorite place in the world. Kayla was a thrill seeker. She loved riding rollercoasters, ziplining, and watching extremely scary movies with her dad. She was a good person who always saw the best in everyone. She was passionate about taking up for others and had little patience for people that were not open minded to the views of others. There was a place in her heart for people that were nice and kind but there was also a place for those that were misguided and sad. She was an old soul that saw way beyond her years. She was indeed beautiful in so many ways…
Kayla was diagnosed with severe depression in the fall of 2017. Kayla did not like going through depression and struggled with accepting help from her doctors, friends and family. The stigma attached to mental illness is very real and it causes many people to suffer in silence. Many people who face depression do not share their feelings with anyone. They do not know how to justify a sadness they themselves cannot explain. Kayla was known for helping others but not for accepting help for herself. The importance of accepting depression without stigma is a major challenge, one that her family will constantly work toward.
Kayla’s Hope Foundation is a combination fund serving two main purposes. First, the fund will provide a scholarship yearly to a graduating senior attending St. Charles East and a graduating senior attending St. Charles North. The recipients will attend a college with the intent of studying Music or Literature starting with the 2020 graduating class. This scholarship will be based on financial need. The family’s intention is to help those that may not otherwise be able to attend without such funds. Kayla would be extremely proud of that intention.
Second, the fund will contribute to various mental health foundations. We would like to provide grants to organizations for scientific research, helping to discover better treatment and encourage better education about mental illness. Education in our schools and advances in treatment to allow another child to not feel isolated and to know exactly what type of medicine that they may need is crucial. It is something you want to intervene with as early as possible.
Kayla deserved so much. She accomplished so much in such a very short time. She could have done so much for the world and has already accomplished much since her death. We want her to always be remembered as a beautiful soul with electric blue eyes who saw good in people no matter who they were, who loved music and created it soulfully, and who wrote creatively and read more books than most do in a lifetime. She loved to laugh and she wanted more than anything to be happy. May Kayla’s Hope reach others who may be walking her walk and allow them to know that they matter. There is help and there is hope.
We are humbled by the overwhelming support of our church, family, friends, neighbors, and community. We will be forever grateful. Kayla didn’t know how much she was loved nor how beautiful she truly was. We thank everyone for the prayers, the music, the ribbons, the generosity to the St. Charles East Orchestra Department, the cards and emails, the walks, and the coming together of so many in our time of need. Our family is hurt but our family is strong and will forever be grateful for the 15 years that we had with Kayla. We are blessed.
Please help us with our mission by donating to Kayla’s Hope so that others may have the opportunity to benefit from advanced scientific research and advanced clinical treatment of mental illness, greater education and awareness of mental health in our schools, as well as to provide financial assistance to high school seniors helping to enable bright futures for our next generation.