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Where to Find Kilee Brookbank This Fall

Kilee Brookbank, the inspiring burn survivor behind the story of Beautiful Scars: A Life Redefined, has a busy fall lineup of signings and appearances in the Greater Cincinnati area.

While Kilee finishes her third semester at Xavier University, here’s when and where you can meet her and get a signed copy of her award-winning book:

Want more on Kilee? Learn about her charitable foundation at KileeGivesBack.org and visit her personal website at KileeBrookbank.com.

And stay tuned to this website to find out about Kilee’s upcoming appearance on a nationally syndicated TV program! 

Join Five KiCam Authors at ‘Brews and Books’

Cincinnati-area book lovers, come meet KiCam authors Kilee Brookbank, Laura Dewire, Danielle and Christopher Jones, and Keith Maginn from 3-7 p.m. Sunday, November 26, at West Side Brewing in Westwood.

The inaugural “Brews and Books” event also will feature several other local authors and include everything from children’s books, sports books, nonfiction, and holiday books.

This is a great opportunity to purchase some unique holiday gifts: books signed with personal messages from the authors!

“Brews and Books” is a family-friendly event, as well. Of course there will be great local beer, but there also will be plenty of root beer, soft drinks, and food for guests of all ages.

We look forward to seeing you, and we thank you for supporting local businesses and authors!

Lori Highlander

Q&A with ‘Beautiful Scars’ author Lori Highlander

Lori HighlanderLori Highlander was a pretty typical working mom, raising two teenage children and two stepsons in a rural community outside of Cincinnati, Ohio. But in November 2014, Lori’s home erupted in flames caused by a gas leak—and Lori’s daughter, Kilee Brookbank, then 16, was caught inside. Kilee made it out of the blazing house but spent the next 38 days recovering from second- and third-degree burns over almost half her body. When she returned home from the hospital, Kilee needed constant care and physical therapy, and Lori found her life turned upside down. Now, almost three years later, Kilee has made a full recovery, and Lori, 41, has teamed with her daughter on the book Beautiful Scars: A Life Redefined and the nonprofit Kilee Gives Back Foundation to raise awareness of and money for Shriners Hospitals for Children. Here, Lori shares her family’s triumphant story and offers some inspiring words for other parents going through difficult times.

What prompted you to share your family’s intimate story with the world?

We decided to share our story to raise awareness for Shriners Hospitals for Children and to help others who might be experiencing similar situations. No matter what you are going through in life, you can make it if you try hard enough. There might be quite a few bumps along the way, but through each struggle, we are given that life experience for a reason. You can choose to do something about it, or you can sit back and play the victim role. It’s a choice, and our family chose to do something positive with our story

Beautiful ScarsDid the writing process give you a new perspective on what you had been through?

Writing the book allowed me to go through the grieving process that I was unable to do while Kilee was recovering. I was so occupied with helping her and making sure she made a full recovery that I didn’t allow myself to go through all of the emotions. When I was writing the book, I actually sat down and was able to process it and let it all out. The mixed emotions poured out of me like I’d never felt before, and it was great to get it out. But I also had a reality check of how far Kilee and our family had truly come. It was a horrific accident, but Kilee made a miraculous recovery. She continues to inspire people and make the best of what happened, and we are so grateful for this life that we live.

Watching and helping your daughter recover from burns on nearly half of her body was an incredible challenge! How did it redefine your life and your family’s life together?

Our journey hasn’t been typical. At times, in the early days after the explosion, it almost seemed unbearable. But it’s made us who we are, as individuals and as a family. We’ve healed, we’ve grown stronger, and we will continue to share our story in hopes of helping others.

As a woman, have you changed your thoughts about self-image and body consciousness as a result of your experiences with Kilee?

It’s remarkable to see how strong Kilee has been and continues to be. It’s not easy to share your scars with the world, and she inspires young girls, teenagers, and women to be confident with their bodies and accept their flaws and to wear whatever they feel comfortable in. I am so proud of how brave Kilee continues to be, because she inspires me to be like her more and more every day.

What advice do you have for other parents facing seemingly impossible situations with their children?

I would encourage them to try to remain calm and have hope. We all have more strength than we realize, so stay positive and take one day at a time.

A portion of the proceeds of your book benefits Shriners Hospitals for Children-Cincinnati. What do you want people to know about Shriners Hospitals?

That they save the lives of children from around the world every day and there is no out-of-pocket cost to the children’s families. Shriners Hospitals are amazing places that we will continue to support in any way we can. We are forever grateful to them for saving Kilee’s life!

Meet Our Authors at These Upcoming Fall Events

Want to connect with one of our incredible authors? Here’s where to find them this fall:

Kilee Brookbank and Lori Highlander, “Beautiful Scars: A Life Redefined”

  • 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29, Brown County (Ohio) Fair

 

Sharon Leder, “The Fix”

  • 7 p.m. Sept. 25, Brewster (Mass.) Book Club
  • 2 p.m. Oct. 15, UMass Dartmouth Panel Presentation, Claire T. Carney Library
  • 6 p.m. Oct. 18, Panel Discussion, Nauset Regional Middle School, Orleans (Mass.)
  • 10:30 a.m. Oct. 22, Book Brunch, United Synagogue of Hoboken (N.J.)
  • Dec. 1 and Dec. 8, Simmons College (Boston), class presentations on “Alcohol, Drugs, and Social Work Practice”

Keith Maginn, “(Extra)Ordinary” series

  • 4-7 p.m. Oct. 22, Book Launch, West Side Brewing, Cincinnati
  • 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Oct. 28, Books by the Banks, Cincinnati
  • 1 p.m. Nov. 4, Books from Higher Ground Author Fair, The Summit Church magic-mirror-online (Springfield, Ohio)

Stop by and say hello to our writers!

Q&A with ‘Beautiful Scars’ Author Kilee Brookbank

Kilee Brookbank was just sixteen years old when she suffered severe burns in a house fire that would change the course of her life forever. Now nineteen, Kilee is a college student, author, speaker, and philanthropist who has found the beauty in her scars and uses her story to inspire readers and listeners of all ages. Get to know the brave young woman behind Beautiful Scars: A Life Redefined.

What prompted you to share with the world your personal story as a burn survivor?

I wanted to share my story because I realized there are plenty of other people in the world who have gone through the same things as I have or who could relate to my story in some way. I want to be someone for those people to look up to and to look to for guidance, and I felt like my story had a way of helping people get through any issues that might come up in their lives.

As you wrote the book, did you learn anything new about yourself? Did the writing process give you an added perspective on what you had been through?

Writing the updated edition of Beautiful Scars was something I felt needed to happen. A lot of things have gone on in my life since we wrote the first book. I have changed as a person, and so has my entire life. While going back through and rewriting it, I kept thinking about everything I have been through. I have always appreciated what has come of my hard times, and the writing process has helped me to get where I am today emotionally.

In what ways has being a survivor caused you to redefine your life?

Being a burn survivor has made me want to do much more than I ever imagined before the accident. I want to give back and especially want to be someone that people can look up to. Ever since the accident, I have never let my experiences or my scars define me; I have always been true to who I am. I have redefined how I think of life and the purpose that everyone has in their lives. Being a burn survivor has made me a better person.

You wear your scars proudly. What do they mean to you?

They signify that I have been through something horrible and came out on the other side just as happy as I was when I didn’t have scars. Some people would be embarrassed or uncomfortable wearing their scars proudly and letting them be visible, but I choose to not think of it as something I need to be ashamed of. People who see your scars don’t know how it feels to be proud of yourself for getting through one of the hardest things. Of course, I am always going to catch people looking, but I don’t let it bother me. I just brush it off.

In a world that is so focused on how women look, what are your words of wisdom for embracing our bodies as they are? How do you challenge the standards of what “beauty” is?

These days, women are constantly worried about body image and their self-confidence. Having scars, I know how it feels to be looked at and examined out of curiosity or whatever it might be. I choose to not let it bother me or let it get me down, which is what I think every woman should do. No one is perfect, and no matter what, people are always going to care for you because of who you are and not what you look like. My advice for any woman who might be struggling with embracing her body would be to not let anyone’s words define who you are. You might not look what society calls “normal,” and that’s okay. It is no one’s business to judge someone based on what others look like. Beauty is on the inside just as much as, if not more than, it is on the outside.

A portion of the proceeds of your book benefits Shriners Hospitals for Children-Cincinnati. What do you want people to know about Shriners Hospitals?

Shriners Hospitals do incredible work. They are an amazing team, and I have nothing but good things to say about them. No matter what, they always put their patients’ care and their patients’ families first. That is what is so amazing about them: They understand what patients and families are going through, and they are willing to do anything and everything they can to help people.

What do you hope readers take away from Beautiful Scars: A Life Redefined?

I want them to take away all the positives and use them in their everyday lives. Dwelling on the negative can be consuming to a person, and that is something that can make your own life, as well as the lives of others around you, miserable. It is important that readers know I appreciate all the support I have in my life and that I love being able to be someone others can look up to. It is an honor to know I can help just one person, and that is why I try my hardest to spin inspire people.

Beautiful-Scars-Book

‘Beautiful Scars’ Finalist for Benjamin Franklin Award

Beautiful Scars, the debut by authors Kilee Brookbank and Lori Highlander, has been named a finalist for an Independent Book Publishers Association Benjamin Franklin Award, to be presented April 7.

Beautiful Scars, the story of Kilee’s recovery from being severely burned in a house fire in 2014, is a finalist in the Inspirational category. The Benjamin Franklin Awards are among the most prestigious honors for independent presses like KiCam.

A portion of the proceeds of the sales of Beautiful Scars will benefit Shriners Hospitals for Children-Cincinnati, where Kilee spent 38 days healing after the fire. Beautiful Scars was the first book published by KiCam, and Lori and Kilee will be signing copies of the book at Book Expo America on June 1 in New York City.

See the complete list of Benjamin Franklin Award finalists here.

 

Thank You, Shriners, for a Perfect Launch!

Credit: Shriners International

Credit: Shriners International

Shriners Hospitals for Children – Cincinnati hosted a successful launch event for “Beautiful Scars” Wednesday that saw burn survivors, hospital employees, local media, Shriners members and friends from the community come out to support authors Kilee Brookbank and Lori Highlander.

The atrium at Cincinnati Shriners Hospital was full all evening as Kilee and Lori signed books, took photos with guests and shared their experience of hope and healing. Kilee and Lori also donated 50 books for patients and their families.

“It was great to have so many people come out to support the book, but the best part was meeting other burn survivors and being able to hear their stories and encourage them as they continue recovery,” Kilee said. “We’re so grateful to Shriners for hosting us. They’re an amazing group of people: the nurses, the doctors, the administrators. Everyone goes the extra mile.”

SigningKiCam would like to extend particular gratitude to the Shriners team that organized the event and is setting up “Beautiful Scars” signings this summer at the Shriners hospitals in Boston and Galveston, Texas.

A portion of the proceeds of “Beautiful Scars” will benefit Cincinnati Shriners Hospital, and the Kilee Gives Back Foundation, which also supports Cincinnati Shriners Hospital, is finalizing plans for its second annual celebrity golf outing later this year.

“As soon as Kilee came to Shriners and we saw the incredible care she was receiving, we knew we wanted to give back,” Lori said. “This book is one step in our journey of supporting Shriners for the rest of our lives, and we hope other patients and their families find it meaningful and helpful as they go through their challenges.”

The Best Prom Ever

Kilee_Prom2016_closeupProm was amazing this year. I wore the most beautiful dress I have ever seen. The moment I tried my dress on, I knew it was the one I wanted to wear to my senior prom. I wanted that night to be one I would remember forever, and that’s exactly what it was.

Inside Edition was part of my whole day. I wasn’t sure how that would work, because last year I had a tough experience with something very similar. Last year, I had a German TV crew film the whole prom day, and it was a bit of a mess. I never thought I would do something like that again, but I did so because I knew it would be a positive thing for me in the end.

I was so excited to wear my dress, and that morning I was anxious. I had worked so hard getting a party bus together for my friends, and the day finally had arrived. I couldn’t wait to get on the bus with all my friends, go eat and have a great time. That morning, the interviewers and camera crew arrived at my house early enough to get footage while leaving me the rest of the day to do prom stuff. After the interview, the makeup and hair ladies got there.

THE GLAM TEAM

Makeup was first on the list. The lady who did my makeup was so nice and was the best at doing makeup. I never knew someone could be that good at makeup! I’m still not sure which was my favorite – my dress or my makeup. The entire day I got compliments on how great my makeup was. I wish she could come to my house and do my makeup every day!

After makeup was hair. The stylist also was great. I showed her a picture of what I wanted my hair to look like, and she did not disappoint. My hair looked better than the picture I showed her. Having my hair done was the best feeling. My hair last year was terrible. It was too short to have any kind of style, because it was still growing out after the fire. This year, my hair looked great, and that felt amazing. I couldn’t have asked for a better glam team.

Finally, I put my dress on, shot a little bit of film and was on my way to meet my friends. Putting on my dress felt great. Last year, I was wearing long sleeves and a dress I didn’t like that well. It was hard to find something that worked with the garments I had to wear during my recovery. But this year, I was happy I could wear a dress I was in love with.

SURPRISE FROM A BENGAL

After taking pictures, we went to meet the bus at our school. We took some more pictures and were on our way. The ride to the restaurant was so fun. We were in a huge party bus with 24 people. We went to J. Alexander’s in Cincinnati, and the food was great. We all enjoyed ourselves, and the best part was that a Bengals football player paid for our food! Our server came over and told us someone had paid for all of our meals, and we were shocked. She told us who it was, and we were even more shocked. None of us saw that coming!

In our group of friends, we are all so different, but we get along great. We all hung out after prom and had a great time. That was the best prom ever, and I definitely think it was the most fun I’ve had in a while.

I can’t believe my senior prom has come and gone. I’m sad about it, but at the same time I am ready to see what my future has in store for me.

Coming Attractions: ‘Beautiful Scars’

KileeVideoIf you’re like us, the trailers are your favorite part of going to a movie.

So we’ve produced a book trailer for “Beautiful Scars,” which releases May 17. (Books are en route from the printer as we speak!)

Thanks to our filmmaker, Lanny Brannock, this video allows co-author Kilee Brookbank to tell why she’s so passionate about sharing her journey with the world, from writing a book to starting the Kilee Gives Back Foundation.

Please take just two minutes to learn more about Kilee and her mission to turn her life’s greatest challenge into a positive and meaningful experience that helps other people.

WATCH THE VIDEO

 

 

 

* Some footage used courtesy of WCPO-TV.