By SHERI GASSAWAY
Selah Harris, the daughter of IBEW Local 1’s Luke Harris, is serving as this year’s patient ambassador for St. Louis Children’s Hospital’s KIDstruction Week.
KIDstruction Week, now in its 10th year, is an opportunity for the St. Louis regional architectural, engineering and construction industries to join together to support St. Louis Children’s Hospital’s mission to do what’s right for kids.
38 SURGERIES IN 16 YEARS
When Selah was born 16 years ago, she was diagnosed with spina bifida, clubfeet, hydrocephalus and other complex issues. Since then, she has had 38 surgeries and spent a combined 200 days of her life hospitalized at Children’s Hospital.
Her father Luke is a service technician at Guarantee Electric. Last year, Rich Ledbetter, the company’s chief operating officer, sent out a letter to employees encouraging them to participate in KIDstruction Week.
“As I read the letter, I could feel his passion for KIDstruction Week, and I could hear his sincerity,” Harris told the Labor Tribune. “Since our paths don’t often cross, I immediately reached out to share how St. Louis Children’s Hospital has blessed my family, and he got back to me that same day.”
In his letter to Ledbetter, he talked about his daughter’s long journey and the impact the doctors and nurses at Children’s have had on her life. He also thanked Ledbetter and Guarantee for taking part in KIDstruction Week each year.
‘SAVED MY DAUGHTER’S LIFE’
“Selah’s had many hospital stays throughout her life and all of them have been at Children’s,” he wrote to Ledbetter. “We absolutely love Children’s, and they have saved my daughter’s life more times than I can remember.”
Ledbetter came up with the idea of KIDstruction Week 10 years ago when he and his wife owned Castle Contracting. He asked all of his partners to donate $1 for each hour worked for one week and everyone jumped on board.
He said the hospital took the idea and built it into a 10-year effort. Last year, more than 150 contractors and 5,000 tradespeople contributed to KIDstruction Week raising $450,000. Organizers are hoping to raise $500,000 this year to help kids who need medical care.
HAVE BECOME CLOSE FRIENDS
“I had never met Luke until he sent me that letter last year,” Ledbetter said. “Since then, we have become close friends and when it came time to pick an ambassador for this year’s campaign, choosing Selah was a no-brainer.”
Selah’s overcome many hurdles and now leads an active life filled with musical theater, adaptive CrossFit and wheelchair racing. As the 2021 KIDstruction Week patient ambassador, she will focus her energy on sharing her story on behalf of children with disabilities who are unable to speak up.
GRATEFUL TO LOCAL 1
While Harris says he’s thankful to Children’s Hospital and to everyone who makes KIDstruction Week possible, he was quick to note his gratitude to IBEW Local 1.
“I’ve been a union electrician for 21 years, and it has made a huge difference in our lives,” Harris said. “It’s enabled me to take care of Selah, and it’s made her life possible.”
HOW KIDSTRUCTION WEEK WORKS
Companies participating in the fundraiser offer their employees the opportunity to contribute $2 or more via payroll deduction for each hour they work during St. Louis Children’s Hospital’s KIDstruction Week. Companies may choose any week in August and are also encouraged to match their employees’ gifts at a percentage of their choosing.
To learn more about KIDstruction Week and to meet Selah, visit KIDstructionWeek.com.