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KIND of the Upstate surprised by TODAY, nonprofit receives $45,000

GREENVILLE, S.C. – When Caroline Giguere and Francie Todd woke up two Fridays ago, they knew it was going to be a big day.


KIND of the Upstate, the nonprofit they founded in 2020, had been selected for a feature story on TODAY WITH HODA & JENNA, and they would be interviewed to tell why and how this agency that promotes children understanding the differently abled came to be.


But then there was a twist. After the interview, the TODAY team told them they needed more footage. They rode in a SUV with darkened windows and were driven clandestinely to the Greenville Textile Heritage Park. That’s where almost 200 of their family, friends and supporters decked out in white T-shirts with the KIND logo on them were waiting with a surprise celebratory party.


Why the party? JOHNSONVILLE, maker of sausages and brats, gave them a $45,000 check to aid KIND’s efforts to educate young children and encourage them to include others and nurture all forms of differences and disabilities amongst their peers. The Grill Dads, social media stars and spokesmen for JOHNSONVILLE, helped grill up brats and sausages. 

 

And all of it was captured on video completely with Todd and Giguere being met with massive cheers when they arrived on scene. Their segment aired on Friday, June 21, ending a whirlwind two weeks for KIND of the Upstate.

 

“We are deeply grateful for this generous donation, which will significantly amplify our efforts and impact. With this support, we can continue to bring awareness to all about disabilities and build a stronger community together,” Giguere said.


The story of how KIND and TODAY connected begins with Susan Bryant, a family friend of Giguere. She submitted KIND’s story for a segment called Friday Feature Families on TODAY.


“Susan submitted such a compelling pitch, complete with heartwarming stories from us that we were accepted,” Todd said. “The show’s producers then reached out to us and we just told them everything we have done.”


The KIND board quickly came together to maximize this opportunity, each person bringing a unique set of skills and experiences.  Board member Leah Stoudenmire, of The Rock It! Co., used her decades of event and marketing experience to pull together a comprehensive marketing campaign in less than five days -- coordinating with the TODAY team and gathering attendees to ensure the event’s success.


“What a dream come true for KIND of the Upstate and our founders. This experience has shown us what we can achieve when we come together with a shared purpose. We are deeply grateful for the initial outreach of a dedicated supporter going out on a limb, the generous donations that made this all possible and for the support and dedication of everyone involved,” Stoudenmire said.


About KIND of the Upstate:

KIND of the Upstate is a non-profit organization founded on the principles of promoting kindness toward all children. The organization works with area schools to hold KIND DAYS, in which they teach the importance of inclusion through multiple learning experiences and resources. Their goal is to educate young children on the importance of embracing and celebrating our differences in order to make all children feel like they belong. Learn more at kindoftheupstate.org.

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