Congrats to Joseph Kienbaum! He was our TOP fundraiser this year – at the 4th Annual KIDS Charity Run/Walk. He will be presenting his check to Whitewater Breakfast Kiwanis Club on June 3rd. Here is an article found in the Daily Union on May 23, 2014.
Kienbaum gives back via ‘iPads for Autism’
Posted: Friday, May 23, 2014 7:47 am | Updated: 7:50 am, Fri May 23, 2014.
By Chris Welch, Daily Union staff writer
WHITEWATER — At age six, Joseph Kienbaum has trouble periodically understanding why some things work the way they do. Autism compounds that even more.
So, when he qualified to receive an iPad through a special grant program sponsored by the Whitewater Breakfast Kiwanis Club, Joseph did not quite get why, in his perception, he received this really cool device just out of the blue.
“I don’t know where it came from,” Joseph said of his iPad.
“Sometimes in order for Joseph to understand something, he has to see it all the way through,” his mom, Barb Kienbaum, explained.
Usually, that means Joseph has to read a book to the end or defeat the big boss on a video game level, she said.
“Because he did not ask for the iPad, he did not know why they gave it to him,” she added.
So how would Joseph “complete” receiving the iPad? He simply needed to give someone else an iPad, too.
Perhaps Joseph understands things a lot better than it appears.
With a little assistance from his parents, Barb and Scott Kienbaum, Joseph worked with Motivating Kids to Give, to hold a fundraising walk May 18 that raised $1,085. Now, he is donating that money back to the Breakfast Kiwanis grant program so another child can get a an iPad gratis, too.
In fact, the $1,085 he was able to gather through pledges and donations from local businesses and individuals is enough for two children to receive iPads.
Joseph will be presenting a check to the Breakfast Kiwanis at their next meeting on Tuesday, June 3, at Jessica’s Restaurant in Whitewater.
Motivating Kids to Give is an umbrella organization that encourages children to choose a charity for which they can raise money. Barb said there were 23 participants this year who raised funds for a wide range of charities and agencies, ranging from the Whitewater Food Panty to shark protection. The children walked laps at the Whitewater High School track, and the number walked in 60 minutes ultimately determines exactly how many dollars have been raised.
Joseph read an irresistible sales pitch when he was seeking sponsors: “I am walking with Motivating Kids to Give. The charity I have chosen is the Kiwanis iPad for Autism project. I’d like to raise enough to buy one iPad for a child with autism.”
Barb said that everyone Joseph approached happily donated, either on a per-lap basis or flat rate.
“I walked 10 laps, but I wanted to walk 12,” Joseph said.
Barb said that had there been more time, she suspects Joseph could have raised more. He had received the iPad on April 22, started fundraising through Motivating Kids to Give on May 5 and participated in the lap-walking event May 18.
Barb explained how everything fit together.
“Joseph has art therapy classes at Studio 84, and one day, a Kiwanian came in and presented an iPad to another gentleman who was there that day,” she recalled. “She started talking to me, and she said Joseph would be eligible for an iPad through their iPad for Autism project.”
Barb noted that while autistic, Joseph is high functioning, so he usually is not eligible for such programs.
“We filled out the grant form with help from Kiwanis and the pediatricians at UW Health and Pediatrics in Middleton (where Joseph also has therapy) and it worked out that they were able to give him one. They loaded some amazing apps on it, too,” Barb added.
The Kienbaums already were involved with Motivating Kids to Give, having raised money for the nonprofit Studio 84 last year. When they were talking over which charity they wanted to support this year — and there were many worthy ones under consideration — the iPad for Autism project really appealed to Joseph.
“He said, ‘then I could give an iPad to another kid,’” Barb said. “And that decided it. He was able to have that sense of completion.”
That’s when Joseph went out and raised the $1,085. His parents matched the first $200 he raised so they could give back to the community that supported them, as well.
“He is just a very passionate young boy,” Barb said of her son. “I never thought he would actually raise enough for one iPad, but here he raised enough for two. When Kiwanis gave Joseph his iPad, they said that depleted their funding for the program, but now at least two more children will get them.”
When the Kienbaums told Kiwanis how much was raised, a member said that if a six-year-old could raise enough, then they would match that. Thus, it appears that three iPads will be distributed through the program.”
Barb said that Joseph is special in many other ways.
“Joseph just learned that he has autism,” she said. “I was wearing a Walk with Autism shirt, and he asked about it. I said ‘do you know you have autism?’ and he said ‘No way.’ Then he asked me if I had it too, and I said no. Then he said, ‘It’s different, then, like blue eyes and brown eyes? I have autism and you don’t?’ And I said ‘exactly’.
“He owns it,” she said. “Autism will never define him; he will define it.”
The Kienbaums reside just outside Whitewater, over the Rock County Line in the Town of Lima. They adopted Joseph after foster care through the State of Wisconsin Special Needs Adoption Program. He was the one child of 38 who could not be unified with his birth family.
“This has been the best rollercoaster ride of my life,” Barb said. “I think my family has learned about tolerance, patience and understanding through the eyes of one little boy. I want to share him with the world; I want the world to know him because he is just amazing. People say he is so lucky, and I tell them we are the lucky ones.”
Joseph now enjoys the math apps, the social story app, the sound and light app and the “one about time and money” on his iPad, he said. He also confessed to enjoying the Lego Star Wars game app, which is something every six-year-old — autistic or not — should say.