Shriners Visits Make for a Special Summer

Kilee Brookbank signing a book.

Book launch at Cincinnati Shriners Hospital

Over the summer, I had the opportunity to visit a few different Shriners Hospitals for Children locations across the country in order to meet people who have had life-changing experiences similar to my own. I wanted to inspire people at the different hospitals and share my story beyond the Cincinnati area. I also wanted to hear other people’s stories and learn about what they’re going through. The opportunities I had were amazing, and I had such a great time!

First, I started with my book launch for “Beautiful Scars” in May in Cincinnati. It was such a cool experience! During the book signing, I met some new patients and saw some of the patients with whom I’d been in the hospital. It was neat to see all the children who had been in the hospital at the same time I was, because just like me, they also had healed and gotten much better. I also saw some of my nurses, doctors, and therapists while we were there. That was definitely one of the best parts, because I hadn’t seen some of them since the day I left the hospital, and since then, I had grown and healed so much. It was the best feeling to know all of my nurses, doctors, and therapists were so proud of how far I have come.

Kilee and Lori visiting Shriners in Sacramento.

Northern California Shriners visit

In June, we visited Northern California Shriners Hospital in Sacramento. We met with some of the employees, as well as some of the patients. My mom and I spoke to about thirty people, including parents of patients. This was a new challenge for me, because most people in attendance were native Spanish speakers. We had a translator, so I had to learn how to speak in short sentences and still get my message across. It turned out very well, and I got to sign a few of their books, one person’s hat, and another person’s T-shirt. I think they enjoyed themselves while I was there.

My favorite of all the visits was spending time at Boston Shriners Hospital, because that’s where I was the most involved with children. The city was beautiful, which made us love this trip even more. The best part was going on a field trip with the kids through the Team Brave program. Hospital staff, with the help of Boston firefighters, take patients to different places around the city each month. When I visited in early August, Team Brave spent the afternoon at a paint-and-party location, where an instructor teaches you how to paint a certain picture. While the instructor is telling you what to do, he or she also walks around and looks at the work, plays music, and talks with everyone. I really enjoy painting, so that was great for me. I also got to meet so many amazing people on this visit. I was able to hang out with a lot of different people whom I never would have met otherwise. In particular, I met a very special friend. She is from Ireland and has the coolest accent. We just clicked right away, and because of this visit, we will always be friends who stay connected on social media.

Kilee and a new friend show off their paintings.

Painting with a new friend in Boston

My summer has been very busy, and at times it felt like I needed a break, but without all of this traveling, I would have never been able to meet the special people that I did. I am so happy I was able to visit multiple hospitals and meet so many people. Each one of the visits was special in its own way.

I enjoyed every minute of this summer, and I especially enjoyed getting the opportunity to visit places I had never been before. This is a summer I will never forget—one of the best ones yet. I hope I can continue to travel to different places while telling my story and connecting with all kinds of people because of it.

Making a Difference with Shriners

Kilee at Shriners CincinnatiFor 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!

Thank You, Shriners, for a Perfect Launch!

Kilee at Shriners Cincinnati

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.”

Kilee Signing at Shriners CincinnatiKiCam 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.”

Book signing: May 18 at Shriners – Cincinnati

We’re delighted to invite you to our first book signing for “Beautiful Scars,” from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, May 18, at Shriners Hospitals for Children – Cincinnati.

Come meet our authors, Kilee Brookbank and Lori Highlander, and get your copy of our premium-edition hardback for the special-event price of $20.

We’re so grateful to Shriners – Cincinnati, first and foremost for the incredible care they provided for Kilee and now for their support of “Beautiful Scars” and KiCam Projects. That’s why a portion of the book’s proceeds will benefit Shriners – Cincinnati. You can be sure that your purchase will be helping a tremendous organization!

In addition to the signing in Cincinnati, we’re working with Shriners to schedule events at the three other burn centers around the country: Boston; Galveston, Texas; and Sacramento, Calif.

Stay tuned to our blog and social channels for information about future signings and other events.

We appreciate your support, and we look forward to seeing you at Shriners – Cincinnati on May 18!

12 Weeks and Counting

Beautiful Scars PressKit

Editing our Beautiful Scars Press Kit

It’s been said that publishing a book is a bit like having a baby, which means we’ve entered our final trimester and are starting to wonder if we’ll ever be able to see our feet again.

Our first book, “Beautiful Scars,” will be released May 17only 12 short weeks from yesterday. This week, we’re uploading files for review copies, which will be sent to media outlets far and wide to generate reviews, articles and interviews. We’re working with a fantastic publicity firm, PR By the Book, that will help us gain the exposure we need to make “Beautiful Scars” a nationwide success and share Kilee and Lori’s story with the widest possible audience.

We’re also working with Shriners Hospitals for Children to schedule book signings at the burn-care units in Cincinnati; Boston; Galveston, Texas; and Sacramento, Calif. We’ll announce dates when they are final—it’s going to be a fantastic summer!

(There will be at least 2-3 more Cincinnati-area signings, as well.)

In addition to “Beautiful Scars,” the small but mighty KiCam team is working on launching the Kilee Gives Back Foundation, refreshing KiCam’s logo and branding, and acquiring books for fall 2016 and spring 2017 release. We’ve received some outstanding submissions, and we’re actively in pursuit of more stories of survival and recovery that will inform and inspire audiences around the country and throughout the world.

Oh, and did we mention that our first documentary film is in progress?

There’s a lot going on at KiCam! (And if you know Lori, you know she wouldn’t have it any other way.) We appreciate your support and encourage you to send us your great story ideas.

Stay tuned to our blog and social channels for official event and appearance announcements coming soon!