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  • Spotlight on Betty Hoeffner, Hey U.G.L.Y.


    Betty Hoeffner

    Sometimes we run across someone in the community that makes us want to stop and say, “Thank you.” Betty Hoeffner is one of those people. She is an author, keynote speaker & founder of Prevent Bullying Now and co-founder of Hey U.G.L.Y.

    Hey U.G.L.Y., stands for Unique Gifted Lovable You, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering youth to be their true selves and part of the solution to bullying, youth suicide and substance abuse. Utilizing peer-to-peer learning Hey U.G.L.Y. helps students, schools and youth-serving organizations co-create an environment of respect, acceptance and inclusion. Since 2002 Hey U.G.L.Y. has helped millions of students through their heyugly.org website, Choose To Change radio show, contests, curriculum and interactive assembly presentations. Hey U.G.L.Y.’s world class speakers give students the tools they need to squish out that negative voice in their head that tells them they are not good enough. Whether at an assembly or school concert venue, the message of our speakers align with Hey U.G.L.Y.’s self-esteem and empathy-building bullying prevention curriculum that is used by schools and youth-serving organizations across the country and in Canada.

    Hoeffner is the author of “Stop Bullying Handbook-A Guide for Students & Their Friends,” “Deal, Feel, Heal-Keys to understanding and healing emotional pain,” and “Hue-Man Kind – A Book to End Racism”,

    She developed and wrote the highly effective Stop Bullying Task Force Program which enables schools to set up a student-run stop bullying committee to deal with bullying situations. She created Deal, Feel, Heal a program that empowers youth to get in touch and heal their inner pain. She also created the I AM ENOUGH Campaign, Bullying BystandersUnite, Project Apologize, Laughtercising(tm), CyberbulliedUnite and the Love Yourself Enough Campaign. She hosts a twice weekly radio show on love-love-squareWRHC-FM called CHOOSE TO CHANGE. Together with teen DJ’s, the show features songs with lyrics that inspire positive self-esteem, diversity, a healthy planet, peace and never giving up.

    We created a new link on the LOK site called Alliances where we have listed Hey U.G.L.Y. and will add other organizations we feel are helping young people to ‘Live Love.’


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    2nd Annual LOK Wishing Tree Young Artist Expo Announced

    Save the date! Friday, June 5, 2015 from 5-8pm

    The Second Annual Lindsey O’Brien Kesling Wishing Tree Foundation Young Artist Expo will be held on Friday, June 5th from 5-8pm at the Lubeznik Center for the Arts in Michigan City. The expo will be a family-friendly, multimedia showcase of lively youth visual and performing arts that will include participants from each of the LOK Wishing Tree Foundation’s three partnering arts organizations: the South Shore Dance Alliance, the Lubeznik Center for the Arts and the Boys and Girls Club of Bloomington.

    “Showcasing these kids’ talents—and the fruits of our labors—has been a dream of mine since the beginning, and we are pleased to continue this tradition after a very successful first year.” said LOK Founder, Dot Kesling. “The kids energy last year was amazing! They are so excited to share the results of their hard work and commitment.”

    Check out this video from last year to get an idea of what’s in store.

    The event will be held in conjunction with the Uptown Arts district’s monthly First Friday Art Walk and will feature light snacks and a cash bar.

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    The Dream Bird Has Landed!

    IMG_3102Last year around this time, the LOK Wishing Tree Foundation was hosting a Feather Party for the LOK Dream Bird. Supporters came from near and far to decorate a wooden “feather” with colorful paint and messages of encouragement. The pieces were assembled into the beautiful sculpture shown at right by LaPorte, Indiana artist Laura Marie Panozzo of Earth Angel Eco Art.
    The bird was unveiled to the public during the First Annual LOK Young Artist Expo last June at the Lubeznik Center for the Arts where it was held up for auction as a fundraiser for LOK. Dr. Joe Rosenblum submitted the winning bid and decided to donate the piece to the Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis in the wing where they host their Child Life and Creative Arts Therapies programming.

    Riley’s website states: “Art therapy is a natural form of expression for children and adolescents. Creating art helps people of all ages make sense of and express their thoughts and feelings in a non-threatening way. A session with an art therapist can offer a patient the opportunity to makes choices and gain control in an environment where they don’t always have those options.” 

    LOK Plaque CroppedThe plaque Riley created to accompany the bird is shown at left. It reads, “Each “feather” on The Dream Bird was painted by someone who wishes for childrens’ dreams to come true. This special bird was assembled by LaPorte, Indiana artist Laura Marie Panozzo in tribute to the Lindsey O’Brien Kesling Wishing Tree Foundation. The Lindsey O’Brien Kesling Wishing Tree Foundation encourages young people to unleash their potential through a variety of opportunities in the creative and performing arts.”

    We envision the dream bird watching over the kids at Riley Hospital and keeping their dreams safe, even as they bravely face serious health issues. LOK believes in the power of dreaming and expressing creativity no matter the circumstances. We couldn’t be happier that the dream bird has landed in such a fitting place.

    Megan Madia, Director of Donor Relations at Riley agreed, stating,

    “Riley is truly a place of hope and it is heartwarming to see the LOK Dream Bird serving as a symbol of hope every day, carrying on Lindsey’s legacy.”



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    Our New Mission Statement

    LOK_NEW MIssion Statement_FA v2The LOK Wishing Tree team got together back in January for a planning meeting. Founder Dot Kesling, along with Kathy Sipple, Christine Ward and Dionne Lovstad-Jones took a backward look to review the changes in the organization since its inception and also looked ahead to take stock of where we’d like to go.

    When the website and Facebook page launched in 2013, our vision was that we would be mostly an arts organization with a seasonal PSA campaign about carbon monoxide awareness each fall/winter. Since then, however, our outreach around CO has become an increasingly important part of the work we do. We have made some unforgettable connections: a family whose lives were saved because of a CO detector they received at one of our events; a CO survivor from the East Coast who found our site and offered her research as a resource and dozens of community events.

    Due to our increasing involvement with our CO outreach and our commitment to saving lives through education and supplying free and affordable CO detectors, we decided an update to our mission statement was in order, giving CO a more prominent place. Graphic designer, Monica Schuberth, provided this artwork for us to celebrate the updated mission. What do you think?


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    Save the Date: Switchback Dinner at Spire Farm-to-Fork Restaurant

    Spire-logo-245x300Brad Hindsley, Owner/Chef at Spire Farm to Fork Restaurant in LaPorte, Indiana will host a ‘Switch’ Give Back to benefit the LOK  Wishing Tree Foundation on April 1, 2015 from 5-9pm CST.


    Spire is going to ‘switch’ it up…the cooks will serve and the servers will work the kitchen (with guidance on both ends) on April Fools Day. They will be giving back 10% of their food/liquor sales that night to the LOK Wishing Tree Foundation.


    Please join us for an evening of wonderful food and friends! Spread the word.


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    Living Love: One Woman’s Story of Surviving Carbon Monoxide


    ©Christy Lynch Designs 2013

    Anne Restino learned about LOK while searching for resources related to chronic carbon monoxide exposure. Anne works from her Cape Code home that she shares with her retired racing greyhound Kelsey.

    Between late November 2013 and March 2014 Anne and her dog experienced unexplained and persistent ailments until Anne’s father wisely advised her to tell a neurologist that both her dog and she were ill. The doctor recommended that she check her home environment for toxins and blood for Tick Borne Diseases. Two days later, on March 20th, a gas company inspector confirmed that carbon monoxide was leaking from her gas fireplace.

    When she shares her experience with others, Anne is often asked if she had carbon monoxide detectors in her home. Massachusetts enacted Nicole’s Law in 2006, requiring CO detectors, and Anne’s home was no exception to the rule. Anne shared, “Until recently, I lived with a false sense of security and was not informed about how CO detectors work and when they need to be replaced. I knew to change batteries annually but didn’t realize CO sensors wear out. My six-year-old detectors should have been replaced after five years.”

    Even with CO detectors installed, low levels of CO may go undetected and lead to puzzling and damaging health effects, misdiagnosis, and incorrect treatments. “I awoke in the middle of the night with burning pain in my legs and smelled turpentine in the room. My skin was bright red and too painful to touch,” said Anne, whose symptoms lasted for hours. Her doctor suspected she had an allergic reaction to antibiotics and treated her with prednisone. When it happened again, Anne was seen at the ER and put back on prednisone for her burning skin rash. “I knew something was very wrong as new symptoms developed. I had headaches, trouble breathing, and was always dizzy and sleepy. My eyes and skin burned and lips were numb. I could not focus or remember things,” she added. Anne also noticed changes in her dog. “Kelsey was lethargic and her eyes were red. She panted a lot, vomited, and became lame and painful to touch.”

    Upon discovering the CO leak, Anne asked her electrician to test and replace her hardwired detectors the next day. “My living room detector recorded a CO level of 77 ppm before it stopped working. Detectors are supposed to alarm when CO levels reach 70 ppm, but mine never went off.”

    “I am grateful for my dog waking me up every morning and afternoon after I’d fall asleep on the couch in front of my fireplace. I share our story to honor the memory of Lindsey and her dog, Chillbe, and to support LOK Wishing Tree Foundation’s critical mission.”
    — Anne Restino

    CO detectors need to be replaced every 5-7 years from the date found on the back of each unit. To be on the safe side, why not replace after 5 years? LOK Wishing Tree Foundation has once again partnered with First Alert, a leader in residential fire and CO detection devices. Please educate yourself on the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning and protect yourself and those you love.

    We are so grateful that Anne is living love and survived a perfect storm of situations that put her at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. We plan to cover Anne’s story in more detail in a future series of articles because her research has yielded information we feel would be beneficial for many to share. To be continued!

    Protect your home and those you love by purchasing and installing a carbon monoxide detector. Click here for a 20% discount coupon from First Alert. We can’t think of a more unique and thoughtful Valentine’s Day gift.


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    Our Partnership with the Lubeznik Center for the Arts

    Lindsey O’Brien Kesling Wishing Tree Foundation (LOK) began a partnership with Lubeznik Center for the Arts in 2013 in order to provide opportunities for youth to pursue a wide variety of creative activities that enhance their potential for success.

    Through the support of this partnership, Lubeznik Center focused their instruction and support on youth in Northwest Indiana. Activities included violin and photography lessons, after school dance classes, drawing instruction and a Young Artists Expo on June 6, 2014 that featured the artworks by students of all ages in a professional exhibition space at the Lubeznik Center for the Arts.

    Thanks to this video shared recently by Angie Carlson of the Lubeznik Center. It shows the incredible transformation made from students at Pine Elementary and Krueger Middle School, both located in Michigan City, Indiana.

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    More CO Awareness Support from Fire Fighters, Municipalities and Legislators

    Partners continue to boost carbon monoxide awareness efforts this season. “We are a small organization, staffed by a few part-time people and lots of volunteers with big hearts”, said Dot Kesling. “We rely heavily on the efforts of local fire departments and municipalities to help us get the word out. We owe a debt of gratitude to those who have taken up our cause.”

    The town of Chesterton designated October, 11 2014 “Carbon Monoxide Awareness Day.” We created a template for a resolution you can use to ask your own town to designate its own awareness day. Download it here..

    The LaPorte County Fire Chief’s Association voted to officially endorse the LOK Wishing Tree Foundation’s efforts to promote CO awareness. Chairman Randy Novak stated, “It is our hope that working with LOK Wishing Tree Foundation we can save lives from this deadly killer.” Here’s a link to the letter of endorsement..

    Dot with Laporte familyLocal firefighters have already been credited with saving the lives of at least one family. In October 2013 Alexandra Christner attended a CO Awareness event hosted by the LaPorte Fire Station #1 and received a free CO detector, courtesy of First Alert, a leader in residential fire and CO detection devices. Just months later she and her family were awakened by the detector, which was triggered by a furnace leak. The family had a carbon monoxide alarm for years but it stopped working properly; money was tight and they decided to hold off on buying a new one.  Without her son’s urging to attend the event at the firehouse, the family’s story could have ended quite differently.  Alexandra says,”I absolutely believe everything happens for a reason. I believe my son had a passion for being a firefighter for a reason. I’d be very surprised if he doesn’t become a firefighter when he grows up.” Read more about this story here.

    Over 180 gathered in Rolling Prairie yesterday at Kankakee Township Fire Station where they held a  CO awareness and prevention program as part of National Fire Prevention Month and as a re-dedication of their newly renovated fire house. Dot Kesling was one of the keynote speakers. Kesling recognized State Senator Jim Arnold and State Senator Tom Dermody for their strong support of the LOK Wishing Tree Foundation and its mission.  During the last session of the Indiana Legislature, Representative Dermody worked very to successfully amend a bill in the Indiana House that would have mandated home inspectors to note the lack of carbon monoxide detectors during inspections.  Unfortunately, the amendment did not survive when the bill reached the State Senate.  But, through his efforts in working with the Indiana Homebuilders and Indiana Home Inspectors Association, he was able to secure their commitment to include it on home inspections WITHOUT being mandated by law.  Thank you, Representative Dermody.  Your incredible support and efforts have made Indiana homes a much safer place.

    “LOK’s goal is to mandate Lindsey’s Law; CO Alarms required in every dwelling,” says Dot Kesling.
    Live Love, from The LOK Wishing Tree Team!!!

    To learn more about CO awareness events, please visit our Facebook page.

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    Carbon Monoxide Awareness Efforts Continue

    Lindsey O’Brien Kesling was 22 years-old when she died in her Scottsdale apartment from accidental carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Scottsdale Fire Department responded to the 911 call in November 2010.

    “Losing a child for any reason breaks a parent’s heart, but losing them to something that could have been prevented makes the loss so much heavier to bear,” said Dot Kesling, Lindsey’s mother. Part of the the LOK Wishing Tree Foundation’s mission is to raise awareness about carbon monoxide poisoning and how to prevent it, particularly in the coming winter months.

    Several organizations are hosting CO awareness event in partnership with the LOK Wishing Tree Foundation, along with First Alert, a leader in residential fire and CO detection devices.

    The event will be held throughout the coming months. First Alert is providing 20% discount coupons on select carbon monoxide detectors at each event. So far, the following fire departments have indicated they will host events:

    • Bloomington Mayor’s Office – Bloomington, Indiana
    • City of Bloomington Fire Department – Bloomington, Indiana
    • Chesterton Fire Department – Chesterton, Indiana
    • Coolspring VFD – Michigan City, Indiana
    • Kankakee Twp. Fire Dept. – Rolling Prairie, Indiana
    • LaPorte County Fire Chiefs Association – LaPorte, Indiana
    • La Porte Fire Department – LaPorte, Indiana
    • Michigan City Fire Department – Michigan City, Indiana
    • Porter Volunteer Firefighters, Inc. – Porter, Indiana
    • Scottsdale Fire Department – Scottsdale, Arizona
    • Turkey Creek Fire Territory – Syracuse, Indiana
    • Clay Fire Territory – South Bend, Indiana
    • Owen Valley Fire Department – Spencer, Indiana
    • Elkhart Fire Department – Elkhart, Indiana
    • San Pierre Volunteer Fire Department – Medaryville, Indiana
    • Griffith Fire Department – Griffith, Indiana
    • Willow Grove Fire Company – Willow Grove, Pennsylvania
    • Baltimore City Fire Department – Baltimore, Maryland
    • Hythe Volunteer Fire Department – Alberta, Canada

    If your organization is interested in hosting an event, learn more here.

    Besides hosting event, there are other ways to get involved:CO Video Still

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    LOK Dream Bird to Appear at Young Artist Expo

    Completed Dream BirdA bird sculpture, created from pieces of reclaimed wood — hand painted, and inscribed with messages of hope and inspiration from dozens of supporters near and far – will be on display during the First Lindsey O’Brien Kesling Wishing Tree Foundation Young Artist Expo on Friday, June 6th Lubeznik Center for the Arts in Michigan City. The expo will be a family-friendly, multimedia showcase of lively youth visual and performing arts that will include participants from each of the LOK Wishing Tree Foundation’s three partnering arts organizations: the South Shore Dance Alliance, the Lubeznik Center for the Arts and the Boys and Girls Club of Bloomington. “Showcasing these kids’ talents—and the fruits of our labors—has been a dream of mine since the beginning,” said LOK Founder, Dot Kesling.

    The expo will coincide with Michigan City’s Uptown Arts First Friday Art Walk; attendees are invited to stop in to see the bird. The expo will feature art created by young creative artists as well as brief performances from young dancers and musicians.

    LCA Logo Rev 72 4x3 WebThe dream bird sculpture was created by artist Laura Marie Panozzo of Earth Angel Eco Art in LaPorte. Panozzo donated her time and the sculpture to help raise funds for the LOK Wishing Tree Foundation, a nonprofit organization that funds creative and performing arts opportunities for young artists. The bird will be sold via an online auction that will conclude on Monday, June 9th The LOK Wishing Tree Foundation was founded in memory of LaPorte native Lindsey O’Brien Kesling, who had a passion for the arts and for helping children. The Foundation continues the positive work Lindsey began prior to her tragic accidental death at just 22 years old.

    Click here for more details about the auction.

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