For Kilee Brookbank and Lori Highlander, writing “Beautiful Scars” was both a journey of healing and a mission of love.
In February 2015, Kilee, then 16, was recovering from second- and third-degree burns on 45 percent of her body. Only two months after being discharged from Shriners Hospitals for Children-Cincinnati, she knew she felt a call to give back to Shriners, and she felt that a book was the best way to share her experiences while helping raise money to donate.
Lori was going through a recovery of her own. Exhausted after spending 38 days with Kilee in the hospital, she now faced the physically and emotionally draining tasks of caring for Kilee at home while rebuilding their lives after the 2014 explosion that burned Kilee also destroyed the family’s home.
“We had no idea what to expect when we were in the hospital, and after we got home, that was a completely different kind of challenge,” Lori says. “I wanted to create something that would speak to other parents who would be in my shoes someday. I wanted them to know that they can get through it.”
A portion of the proceeds from “Beautiful Scars” will benefit Cincinnati Shriners Hospitals, and the Shriners family has embraced Kilee and Lori from the beginning. After launching her book at the Cincinnati location, Kilee has been invited to visit the burn centers in Northern California, Boston and Galveston, Texas, this summer. At those locations, Kilee will interact with young patients in various stages of recovery. She’ll visit their classrooms, attend a teen discussion group and participate with them in some fun activities designed to get kids back to feeling like kids.
It’s not a traditional book tour; it’s much more meaningful than that.
“I love meeting other survivors and getting to tell them in person that there’s hope, that they can recover and feel good again,” Kilee says. “The best part of my book signings has been meeting other kids, many of them younger than I am, and being kind of an extra source of strength or support for them. I really want to make a difference in their lives.”
Kilee and her family also have started the Kilee Gives Back Foundation to benefit Cincinnati Shriners Hospital. The foundation’s celebrity golf outing will be Sept. 15.
“Shriners does amazing things, and they take care of anyone, whether they can pay or not,” Kilee says. “It makes me feel proud to be able to give back to them, and I feel honored that they’ve invited me to come to their other locations. I am so grateful for everything they’ve done and continue to do for me, my family and other survivors like me.”
Buy “Beautiful Scars” and help support Cincinnati Shriners Hospital!