This story is about Kim Hudson, the wife of superstar Atlanta Braves pitcher Tim Hudson. But before we get started, let’s just get one thing absolutely straight.
Even though Kim is the wife of a bona fide sports celebrity, you will not find anything about a mega-million-dollar mansion, chauffeured limo, or private plane in this article. No way. How about her very own celebrity restaurant? Uh-uh. Designer clothes? Nope. Not even an entourage, folks.
Kim Hudson is the Real Deal.
At any given moment of the day, you might find the petite, blue-eyed brunette doing basically what a typical Peachtree City mother of three does: keeping up with the house, the yard. Doing errands. Giving Jax, the family’s sweet Springer Spaniel, a belly rub. Packing up some snacks to bring to her son’s ballgame later that evening. Maybe you’ll see her in Target doing a little clothes shopping.
But you’re just as likely to find her serving dinner for the homeless in Atlanta, helping to plan an event for the Georgia-Alabama chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, or handling one of a multitude of tasks for the Hudson Family Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to helping children that she and Tim launched this year.
“Whatever it takes to help a child or family in need, she’s not afraid to roll up her sleeves and dig in. She’s doing everything from making meals, helping a family unpack into their new home, to spending the night in the hospital with a family that we’ve grown to love, worried that the little girl won’t make it. She gives her whole heart to everything she does,” says Marci Manning, Volunteer Coordinator for the Foundation.
Kim credits her inspiration to a little girl that she met ten years ago.
It was just an ordinary day in 1999 when Kim and Tim Hudson stepped into an Applebee’s restaurant in Redding, California, but something extraordinary was about to happen that would forever change their lives.
At that time, the young couple was fresh out of college and newly married. They had met as students at Auburn University, when Tim was the star pitcher on the baseball team and Kim was his tutor. “I was focused on academics, while he was all about baseball,” Kim recalls, “but we liked each other from the start.”
By the time they were married in 1999, Kim was in her second year of law school, while Tim, a talented pitcher who had yet to make his name as a baseball star, had just been called up from the minor leagues to play for the Oakland Athletics.
This particular morning found them waking early in a small, cramped motel room. Tim was scheduled to make an appearance on behalf of the Oakland A’s Caravan, an outreach program that sent some of the team’s players to visit community organizations like schools and hospitals during the off-season. Today was Kim and Tim’s first outing, and they were to meet with children from the Make-a-Wish Foundation, the national program that grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses.
“I was tired and nervous,” says Kim, remembering that morning. “I didn’t know what to expect.” She and Tim approached the restaurant table full of children with a variety of life-threatening medical conditions, and Kim took one of the few open seats.
Seated next to her was a young girl, about nine or ten years old, named Miranda. Her head was completely bald, with railroad stitches crisscrossing over her skull, and a face swollen from medications. Miranda was also cheerful, outgoing, and very inquisitive, sending a friendly barrage of questions Kim’s way. “She asked me all kinds of things,” Kim remembers. Kim soon relaxed, although she wasn’t sure what kinds of questions to ask Miranda in return. She finally inquired whether Miranda had been granted her special wish for the Make-a-Wish foundation yet.
Not yet, Miranda replied. I want to go to Disneyland, but I think that’s too much to ask for, so I’m just going to ask to go to a Sacramento Kings basketball game.
“Going to a Sacramento Kings game was such a small thing for Miranda to ask for. It was right next to where she lived,” Kim recalls. “She was so ill, but still she was so selfless. At that moment something just sparked inside of me. I wanted to help her, and I really wanted to help all of the kids there. Talking to Miranda made me want to look into it further. I feel that on that day at the restaurant, God put her there to spark something inside of me.”
Tim, too, was inspired by their visit with the Make-a-Wish children, and as he and Kim got back into the routine of the season, the couple got in touch with the Greater Bay Area chapter of the Make-a-Wish foundation. For the next three years, as Tim’s talent and drive took him from underestimated rookie to pitching superstar, they would host the chapter’s annual charity golf tournaments, increasing the charity’s visibility ands raising thousands for kids like Miranda.
When Tim was traded to the Atlanta Braves after the 2004 season, Kim contacted the Georgia-Alabama chapter of Make-a-Wish right away and joined their annual Walk for Wishes at Atlantic Station. It wasn’t long before her involvement with the organization would grow to include being chairperson of the Walk for Wishes and serving as a member of the Board of Directors. In addition, she and Tim became ambassadors for the Make-A-Wish Foundation throughout the baseball season by helping fulfill children’s wishes to visit Turner Field and meet Braves players. They were also named honorary co-chairs of the annual Celebration of Wishes Gala, and each year, they have hosted a Toys R Us shopping spree and Christmas party for seventy-five Wish children and their families. Even now, with all of her other commitments, Kim is still tremendously active in Make a Wish. “Having a chapter of Make-a-Wish that covers two states, well, it’s a daunting task,” Kim says with a smile. “Five hundred wishes, that’s a lot of kiddos to help. But it’s great—I’ve met so many wonderful kids and their families.”
As the years passed, Kim’s conversation with Miranda in Applebee’s continued to touch her heart and “spark” her, and Kim still wanted to do more to improve the lives of seriously ill children. She and Tim reached out to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, offering to partner with them. One of their first fundraising efforts was the creation of Birdies & Baseball, a three-day fundraising event that includes a golf tournament and a spring training baseball practice with the Braves. Now in its fourth year, Birdies & Baseball’s proceeds directly benefit the Aflac Cancer Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. “When we raise money for the Aflac Cancer Center, we know exactly where it’s going—to a patient in need, to the laboratory for a particular research item—it’s a tangible benefit,” Kim explains. “I do believe there’s a cure for cancer, and what we do directly contributes to finding the cure.”
Kim’s work with charitable organizations only grew over time. It seemed that everywhere she turned, there was a compelling story of someone in need—of money, clothes, medicine, toys, rent. Kim and Tim donated in all of those ways, but so much more: regularly visiting pediatric cancer patients, including on Christmas day, to cheer up the kids; buying season tickets so they could send children to Braves games who would’ve never had the opportunity to go; working with Anna’s Angel Fund, CURE Childhood Cancer, and the Georgia Transplant Foundation in myriad ways to make a difference in kids’ lives. “They pour their love into the lives of these children with their time, their hands and hearts, as well as with their money,” says Lisa Hanger of Anna’s Angels (annasangels.org), who met Kim when her daughter, Anna, was undergoing treatment for a brain tumor several years ago. “To so many children like Anna, who have suffered immeasurably, Kim is an angel.”
As if that weren’t enough, Kim participates in the Hosea Feed the Homeless and Hungry Campaign that provides food and care to homeless and needy citizens of Atlanta. In 2008, she was able to work with the Moyer Foundation to put in place the funding needed to bring Camp Erin to Atlanta, a bereavement camp designed for children ages 6-17 who have experienced the death of a parent, friend, or loved one.
By early 2009, Kim’s schedule was packed, and her work with charitable organizations was only part of that story. With the demands of family life—homework, activities, sports for her children Kennedie, Tess and Kade—as well as her involvement in her church and Bible study group, Kim’s days were more than full.
And still she wanted to do more to help.
“Around the first of the year, I had this tugging feeling that was propelling me to start my own foundation,” Kim says. “I love what Make-A-Wish does, and what the Aflac Cancer Center does for kids, but sometimes there were people that couldn’t be helped by those organizations. There were gaps. I wanted to be able to look for those gaps and be able to step in and do some things to help.”
As her idea grew, Kim’s passion to start a foundation intensified. “I was so busy, yet I just kept feeling like now is the time to do this.”
Inspired, Kim ran her idea by a trusted friend, who was not in favor of the idea. He pointed out that the economy was terrible, people were having problems paying their bills, and Tim was on the disabled list after undergoing ligament transplant surgery on his pitching elbow. It was a less-than-ideal time to start a charitable foundation. Tim agreed, but he told Kim that it was her decision. Whatever she wanted to do, he would be on board. “We make a good team. I’m always there to support her, wherever this takes us,” Tim says.
Although Kim was somewhat discouraged by their friend’s advice, she drew strength from Tim’s support and her personal convictions. “I knew they were right about it being bad times, but the idea for the foundation just didn’t go away. I told Tim, ‘It’s time for me to do this, and God’s going to make it work.’”
Kim used her legal know-how to incorporate as a 501c3 charitable non-profit. She downloaded the forms online and essentially constructed The Hudson Family Foundation from the ground up. She decided to provide assistance under four different categories: The Rookie Reader Program, which works with local schools, children’s shelters, community centers and after-school programs to provide books and promote literacy; Take Me Out to the Ballgame!, which allows children to experience a Braves baseball game; the Scholarship Program, which awards one-time $3000 scholarships to deserving high school seniors in Georgia and Alabama, and the Non-Profit Grant Program, which supports organizations that serve children’s needs in the areas of health/medical, education, and recreation in Georgia and Alabama.
Not long after Kim officially incorporated the Foundation, she received a call from a social worker at Scottish Rite hospital about one of their patients, fourteen-year-old Calli Nickels, who was undergoing aggressive treatment for osteosarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer. Calli had just come home from the hospital after some intense radiation treatments, and her parents’ insurance plan would not cover her pain medication. The Nickels family was faced with the choice between purchasing Calli’s very expensive prescriptions and paying the mortgage. Needless to say, they were facing foreclosure.
That’s when Kim stepped in. She set it up so that the pharmacy would directly bill the Foundation for Calli’s medication.
For Becki Nickels, Calli’s mom, it was a godsend.
“It is truly a gift of life for her, it enables her to have the tools needed to struggle with the treatments and come out on top. It was a miracle we had prayed for,” she wrote in an e-mail to Kim.
Helping people in need who had fallen through the cracks was exactly what Kim had envisioned, and her work gained momentum as she began to get on the radar and establish the Foundation’s reputation. The Hudson Family Foundation’s launch party was this past June at the W Hotel in Atlanta, and the Hudsons were able to raise $27,000.
“There are so many people looking for opportunities to help others but don’t know what to do. I feel strongly about putting it out there and letting people step in to help where they want to. Some people want to write checks, and that’s great—we really need those people. Some can’t contribute money but they can volunteer and get involved that way. We need both kinds,” she explains.
Over the summer, Kim met another family who needed some support. While serving up dinner at the Ronald McDonald house, she learned of a four-year-old girl, Jazmine, who had suffered a stroke and was in the hospital. Jazmine’s condition was so critical that her mother, a single mom living in the housing projects, had been told by the hospital that she would be signing Jazmine’s death certificate the next day.
Jazmine miraculously came through. However, once she was to be released from hospice care, her she would need a larger bedroom for her medical equipment and hospital bed, and their current apartment in the housing projects was completely unsuitable. Kim knew right away how she could help.
“I went house hunting,” she says. “This family needed a safe, affordable home with good schools so that Jazmine could get the care she needed and get better.” Kim and Jazmine’s mother found the perfect house for her, and Kim helped to pack up the family and move them in. “They’ve started over,” says Kim, smiling.
The Hudson Family Foundation continues to grow, and Kim and Tim are excitedly planning upcoming fundraisers, raising awareness and generating support. For their upcoming County Music Extravaganza, featuring Blake Shelton and Josh Gracin, they are offering membership in the Foundation’s Team of Friends, which includes an exclusive celebrity-packed dinner party on Nov. 20th and VIP private backstage access and a concert after-party on the 21st. It all fits in with Kim and Tim’s belief that you can help folks and have a great time, too.
Kim and Tim continue to lead by example. “We believe strongly that the more God gives, the more He requires; and the more He requires, the more He gives,” she explains. “We have been so blessed to be a part of the lives of these amazing children and their families, and to be able to help them when they need it.”
If you’d like to join the Hudsons’ team, the Foundation is looking for community support—from local bake sales to VIP sponsorships. Please visit www.hudsonfamilyfoundation.org to learn about more ways you can help, or to join the Hudson Family Foundation Team of Friends, call 404.584.0095.
You can also follow the Hudson Family Foundation on their Facebook page.