Karlie’s Fund for Reach Out & Read

Sharing the gift of reading with young children

Karlie and her son

More than 82,000 books and counting in the hands of children across Central Minnesota…That’s quite an accomplishment and also a tribute to Karlie Geiser Hobson, a speech language pathologist who made a big impact in her short, 32-year life.

Karlie died in a motor vehicle accident in August 2012. Her family chose to focus their grief and Karlie’s legacy on something positive by starting Karlie’s Fund for Reach Out & Read. Reach Out & Read is a national program, funded locally, that stresses the importance of reading to young children.

Karlie’s Fund is used to purchase books that are given to patients ages 6 months to 5 years at their well-child visits. Karlie’s sister, Kelly Woods, worked as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at CentraCare – Plaza Clinic Pediatrics.

“Reading is very important in a child’s language development, which made it extremely important to Karlie. I know Karlie would be proud to know the impact Karlie’s Fund has made over the past few years,” shared Kelly.

In 2010, Karlie Geiser Hobson worked on
speech development with her nephew, Chase Woods.
The Reach Out & Read Program ensures families have age-appropriate and language-specific books at home to read with their children. Pediatric providers give a book to every child during their well-child visits and talk to the parents about the importance of reading with their child.

The Geiser family and their friends have organized different fundraising activities to support this fund. Karlie’s father, John Geiser, MD, organizes the annual Sunflower Invitational, named after Karlie’s favorite flower. This four-day golf tournament held in the Brainerd lakes area has had between 15-30 participants annually ranging in age from 25 to 80.

Love You, Hug You, Read to You book “While the golfers aren’t required to donate to Karlie’s Fund to participate, many of the winners of the various golfing competitions in the tournament have simply donated their prize winnings back to Karlie’s Fund and just retained their ‘bragging rights’ for the year,” said John.

A family friend also has organized an annual cribbage tournament fundraiser with 16-20 friends who contribute an entry fee to play each other over several months, competing to win the “Karlie’s Fund” cribbage trophy.

Many employees in CentraCare’s pediatrics clinic also contribute to Karlie’s fund during the annual CentraCare Employee Campaign. The Fund also has received significant support from individuals designating Karlie’s Fund in their personal contributions to CentraCare Foundation.

Pediatrician Jill Amsberry, DO, CentraCare – Plaza Clinic Pediatrics, recognizes the impact of Karlie’s Fund as reading is critical to language development.

Pout-Pout Fish book“Because of the generosity of the Geiser family, CentraCare’s pediatric providers have been able to give thousands of books through our Reach Out & Read program. For many of our patients, these books are the first they have received and possibly the only they will receive until they begin school.”

Jill said she knows that language and literacy develop together, and that development starts in infancy. Language and literacy are critical in reducing societal inequalities and the pediatric clinic is committed to equity and the reduction of health disparities.

Provider and patientIn 2020, when the pediatrics clinic had the opportunity to remodel, they wanted to include something that honored Karlie, the Geiser family and Karlie’s Fund. A mural painted with sunflowers, Karlie’s favorite flower, was added as a reminder of the incredible gift this program and family have given to the children we serve.

“Watching a child receive a book, sometimes for the very first time, never gets old. We know as that book goes home with the family, it might open doors in their world they could not otherwise have imagined,” said Jill. “I truly believe this program is a foundation to building healthy children, well families and connected communities.”

Karlie's FundIf you would like to support Karlie’s Fund for Reach Out & Read and continue to put books in the hands of children, donate online.

To learn more about Karlie’s Fund (Geiser Hobson) for Reach Out & Read or how you can make donation, please contact CentraCare Foundation at foundation@centracare.com or 320-240-2810.

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