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Kendall Bilbow

Kendall Bilbow’s family is not an ordinary one, but rather an extraordinary one. Following a complication-free pregnancy, the Arlington mom gave birth to daughter Jylian, nicknamed Jilly Bean [now 5], who was diagnosed with countless, life-threatening conditions, which were part of her recently discovered, genetic connective-tissue disorder, Loeys Dietz Syndrome. Kendall, and her husband John, senior vice president of sales for the Fort Worth Cats, have loved and nurtured their daughter through countless surgeries, hospital stays and therapy sessions.

Just recently the family grew by another member, Michael, aka “Mikey,” a one-year-old boy the couple adopted from Korea. “After being so medically fragile for so long, having Mikey has opened my eyes to trying to give Jylian every chance she can, regardless of her condition,” confides Bilbow. “We go to the park more and do things that we were maybe a little bit afraid to do before. It [life] has really changed for the better.”

What she does: When the stay-at-home mom isn’t busy tending to the unique needs of her children [Jylian is tube fed and receives homebound therapy through Cook Children’s Medical Center and school sessions through Arlington ISD], she is working to find ways to give back to the community, which she says, has given so much to her.

“We always want to make sure that our kids are involved [in philanthropic efforts] and that as they grow up they realize that it’s important to give back,” shares Bilbow. “When you have a situation in your own life that [helps you to] reach people and bring awareness, that’s important.”

For several years Bilbow has been spearheading Fort Worth Cats charity baseball games, dubbed Jelly Beans for Jilly Bean, to help to raise funds for the World Craniofacial Foundation, a nonprofit she has been involved with since learning, at birth, that Jylian had craniosynostosis, an early fusion of the skull bones which required surgery.

But Bilbow’s charitable efforts aren’t limited to baseball games. She’s even turned birthday parties into exercises in philanthropy. “On Jylian’s invitations, [we included a note] ‘in lieu of gifts you’re welcome to join John and me in making a small donation to the World Craniofacial Foundation,’” she says. “We try, whenever we have the opportunity and the resources, to do what we can.”

In four years, Bilbow has helped raise nearly $40,000 for the foundation.

How she does it: Bilbow juggles the demands of motherhood and do-gooder endeavors by relying on time management skills (like scheduling Mikey’s naps during Jylian’s school and therapy sessions), her strong support system and her unyielding faith. “Sometimes I’ll look back and I don’t know how I’ve managed, but somehow by the grace of God and with a lot of good friends and support we just make it work,” she asserts. “As many challenges as we’ve been through, I think I would be a different person if I wasn’t Jylian and Mikey’s mom, They have changed my outlook on life and on the world.”