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Kim Wesdock, Making a “Moving” Difference in Children’s Lives

In Memoriam
St. Vincent & the Grenadines
4 Minute Read
“Kim knew she could and would make a difference in our WPP families’ lives.”  
 
This determination is in part how Jackie King, WPP’s Eastern Caribbean Regional Representative describes Kim Wesdock, longtime WPP medical volunteer who recently lost her battle with cancer.  “She had a love for humanity, a passion to serve and a great respect for the gift of life and the preservation of hope, trust, and dignity.” 
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Born with Cerebral palsy, Kianna (pictured above in 2016) visited Kim’s annual Physical Therapy team every year since 2012, when she was 3 years old.
Kim’s official title was pediatric physical therapist, but she was much more than that to her WPP extended family.  Every spring Kim left her full-time job, husband and three boys in Richmond to travel to St. Vincent and St. Lucia to provide weeklong intensive physical therapy for her many young WPP patients, children who over the years became almost like family to her. Kim’s husband Jim remembers her planning all year for the trip.  “Kim was not a volunteer who helped once a year and moved on. This work was her calling,” Jim proudly recalls.  “WPP’s mission resonated the love she felt for her patients and they felt for her.  She gave them hope and helped transform their lives.”
 
For children growing up in developing countries, access to physical therapy services is rare.  Most hospitals and clinics lack the necessary equipment and staff to help children with orthopedic, neurological, congenital or acquired conditions affecting normal movement. This reality in the Eastern Caribbean meant there was an abundance of children awaiting physical therapy when Kim began volunteering her services in 2006.  For most children, WPP occupational and physical therapy clinics are their only opportunity to see a pediatric specialist like Kim and receive the specialized physical therapy exercises customized for their distinctive needs.  She truly made a difference in the lives of hundreds of children in the Caribbean with life-changing therapy and care.
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Chloe has been seen by WPP teams since she was 9 months old. After receiving orthopedic surgery in Richmond, VA in 2015, Chloe visited Kim’s Physical Therapy team when it traveled to St. Vincent every spring. Her progress has been incredible and given her a chance at a normal life for a 9 year old.
Physical therapy was not Kim’s first choice as a career.  Initially, she wanted to study engineering, but she found it just too impersonal.  “She was altruistic and she wanted to be in a healing profession,” asserts her husband Jim.  “Kim chose pediatrics because she enjoyed the opportunity to make improvements to children’s lives.  Working with the kids in St. Vincent and St. Lucia was different than working in the states because of the limited medical supplies and equipment.  Kim said it was rewarding to see the progress each year. She loved watching the children evolve and improve over time.”
 
Kim led thirteen physical therapy missions to St. Vincent and St. Lucia, and only months before her passing, hanging on to hope and optimism for her own healing, was actively planning for her next trip helping children from newborns to young adults.  Every child Kim helped was personal to her and each had their own therapy progress plan. 
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"Whenever we couldn’t find her during clinic, we knew we would find her sprawled out on the floor with the kids. Kim loved all of them.”
“She had a deep love for the children she helped,” remarks WPP Eastern Caribbean Medical Director Dr. Bharati Datta.  “She never stopped thinking about the children.  She always had new ideas. She spent hours doing research and teaching the staff.  She had a special way of communicating with the kids. Whenever we couldn’t find her during clinic, we knew we would find her sprawled out on the floor with the kids.  Kim loved all of them.”

Kim had a special relationship with many of the WPP children and their parents.  One mother commented, “I see Kim as a mother to my daughter Kaliyah because she was able to get her a leg brace, something we could not have done without her help.”  Another patient, Sweet I, paralyzed by a stray bullet when she was just sixteen, remembers Kim taking extra-special time to help strengthen her arms, hands, and fingers, enabling her to use her knuckles to communicate online and take college courses.  “We became good friends.  She told me I would be able to use my hands if I did physical therapy exercises every day, and she was right.  I graduated from college, and now I want to continue my studies in psychology, so I can help people with disabilities cope with their physical and mental challenges.”
 
Kim approached her personal life with the same gusto as her professional pursuits. She ran marathons and competed in triathlons. Jim felt she had a real sense of adventure and thrived on challenges and goal setting.  “She lived life to the fullest and found the good in everyone.”
Prior to Kim’s passing in January and in recognition of Kim’s extraordinary dedication and love for her WPP children, she was awarded the 2018 WPP Julian C. Metts Humanitarian of the Year Award.  Dr. Metts is the founder of World Pediatric Project with the vision that together, caring people could work together to “heal a child and change the world.”  Kim will be dearly missed by the entire WPP family.