Gwendolyn’s Gifts was founded in 2019.  It is a 501c3 public charity inspired by our daughter, Gwendolyn. Gwendolyn’s Gifts is ran by Gwen’s parents and the help of volunteers. To date, Gwendolyn’s Gifts has donated over $200,000 and assisted a little over 1,000 local families with children fighting life threatening illnesses.

Our Sweet Gwen

Gwendolyn was born a beautiful 6 lb, 12 oz baby girl on September 23, 2014…perfect in every way! Her journey with health complications began at a couple weeks of age; however, it took until she was 5 months before an abnormal brain MRI provided us further information: atrophic cerebrum/brainstem, hypoplastic corpus collosum, and hypomelination. Following her brain MRI, an EEG was completed which demonstrated severe multifocal tonic seizures. The neurology team called Gwen’s case “rare and complex.” She was given the diagnosis of an undiagnosed neurological condition; impacting her vision, ability to walk, talk, and eat/drink by mouth.

Our sweet Gwen spent a lot of time at St. Louis Children’s Hospital during her first year of life. Shortly following Gwen’s 2nd birthday, a repeat brain MRI was completed in November 2016 demonstrating significant tissue loss across all areas of the brain. Sadly, Gwen’s diagnosis was switched to “progressive and degenerative.” At this time, Gwen was admitted to the Wings Program (an in-home pediatric palliative and hospice care program).

Gwen proved to be our true superhero as she courageously fought and defied countless odds for eight years. On May 12, 2023, Gwendolyn Marie Kramer, peacefully passed away at home in the arms of her mother and father while being surrounded by multiple other family members.

Sweet Gwendolyn- your work here is done. However, the work of your charity will only continue to flourish and make a difference in the lives of others to prove your legacy of spreading strength, sunshine, and smiles will forever be greater than the struggles and pain associated with pediatric illness. You will live in the hearts of thousands who loved you and were continually inspired by your strength and ability to change the world.

How it Started

A text that read “Make a Difference Today for Someone who is Fighting for their Tomorrow” (quote from Jim Kelly) was sent from Gwen’s dad to mom. This quote was a perfect reminder of the way we strived to care for Gwen: fighting her disease with love, endless snuggles, days filled with sunshine, and lots of prayer.  Our goal was simple: MAKE GWEN SMILE EVERYDAY!  While walking this journey, we learned firsthand about the financial, physical, and emotional stresses associated with having a child with a terminal diagnosis.  The initial goal of making Gwen smile everyday grew to sharing smiles with fellow families walking a similar path.

In 2018, Gwen collected donations in lieu of 4th birthday presents for an event called “September Smiles.” The “September Smiles” event donated 85 Smile Bags to children on palliative and hospice care with a goal to spread smiles to fellow superheroes. The spreading of smiles was powerful and further proved that support was lacking for these families. Therefore, Gwendolyn’s Gifts was founded in 2019 with a mission to provide emotional support and financial support to families with children on palliative and hospice care in the Saint Louis region and surrounding areas. Through our own heartache grew something beautiful. Gwendolyn, the world’s cutest CEO, is consistently inspiring other’s with her story and ability to spread so much good in the St. Louis area.

“Having a child with a terminal diagnosis is heartbreaking in everyway- financially, physically, and emotionally.” We are constantly inspired by Gwen’s strength. The creation of Gwendolyn’s Gifts Foundation has been healing for our family.  We have learned that we walk this difficult journey so we know how to serve other families walking a similar path.” – Mark & Erin Kramer