July 17, 2002 Saratoga, California Since 1955
Saratoga Sampler

Car wash, auction raises funds for Kaitlyn
By Mary Ann Cook

KAITLYN'S CAR WASH: Primary Plus threw a benefit car wash at El Quito School one recent Saturday and raised more than $2,000 for Kaitlyn Langstaff. Kaitlyn is an 8-year-old Saratogan with a severe form of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, a rare disease that attacks the immune system.

Kaitlyn has been hospitalized since early April, starting in Madera, where the family was en route to a vacation. Then it was feared she needed a heart/lung support machine, so she was airlifted to a Los Angeles hospital. There her life hung in the balance, but she managed to pull through.

She is now at the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford. To compound the Langstaffs' problems, both parents, Kerry and Brad, had lost their jobs last summer. Kerry had just landed a new job, so they were taking a vacation trip to Yosemite to celebrate.

They were also headed to a creative team competition in which daughter Kelly, 11, was entered and Kerry coached. The family got as far as Fresno when Kaitlyn got sick. The family goal of keeping afloat financially has changed suddenly and dramatically to the daunting task of keeping Kaitlyn alive.

While the Langstaffs were in Los Angeles, neighbors, friends and schoolchildren pitched in, taking care of things and organizing fundraisers, the most recent one being the Primary Plus car wash. The event featured a raffle, hot dog barbecue and auction, as well as the promised clean car.

Prizes raffled off included a vacation anywhere for four days and three nights; a limousine ride for five hours on a Sunday, plus a $100 certificate for the Carnelian Room in San Francisco; and a jump house and ice cream cake awaiting a birthday celebration.

Other prizes: a football signed by the 49ers and three months' paid tuition for child care at Primary Plus. The staff of Primary Plus organized the fundraiser. Sharon Lecznar is director. Kaitlyn was cared for at the infant center at El Quito when she was a baby and has been part of the El Quito community ever since.

A second-grader at Forest Hills School, Kaitlyn wants to become a veterinarian. Her schoolmates have planted a flower garden outside their classroom and named it Kaitlyn's Garden. The Langstaffs are enthusiastic volunteers for school and athletics programs, and this is the community's way of paying back.

Kaitlyn's health is still precarious and, when stronger, she faces surgery to restore her eyesight. Donations can be sent to: Kaitlyn Sierra Langstaff Fund, Comerica Bank California, 12455 Winchester Blvd., San Jose, 95128.