KAUKAUNA, Wis. - Kayla Fink and Sophia Skrede have a deep bond that most of us will never understand.
"I gave her her life back, but I also got a rejuvenation to mine," explained Fink.
Their special connection started four years ago when Sophia was a baby. She was in liver failure from a rare, life threatening disease called biliary atresia. An organ transplant was the only way to save her. Kayla, a family friend, stepped up to help and was a perfect match.
"For me, it was easy. I didn't ever question donating. I just said yes, and from day one of saying yes sign me up, I never looked back."
"I can never put into words what she did," said Sophia's mother, Steph Skrede. "Looking at Sophia growing up, playing with her siblings, being a normal kid, without Kayla, I don't know that we would have had that."
While Fink gave the ultimate gift, she and the community also rallied around the Skredes by putting on an annual fundraiser called Shop for Phia to help Sophia's parents pay her medical bills and transportation costs to hospitals in Milwaukee and Illinois.
"It's overwhelming. When we went to leave Chicago and I said, "Arvid, ok it's going to be over $600 for parking,' and he had just been off work for six weeks, it was like, "Oh,'" explained Steph.
Sophia had just an 8% chance of living to see her first birthday, but the little fighter from Kaukauna beat the odds. Now that she's 4-years-old, healthy, happy, and thriving, her family wants to give back. On Sunday, 60 crafters and vendors will take part in the 4th annual Shop for Phia event. The proceeds will benefit other families who are struggling with similar health journeys at the hospitals that cared for Sophia.
Steph said, "Even if it's something small like, 'Here's a gift card to go get dinner,' it's huge for the families in that position."
Members of UW Organ and Tissue will also have a booth at Shop for Phia to raise awareness of organ donation and its importance.
Fink said, "Even if one person signs up to be a living donor, that's one life we could save."
A life with so much promise, just like Sophia.
"To see her being so independent and having fun, those are moments we didn't think we'd have, and thanks to Kayla, we do," said Steph.
Shop for Phia is being held on Sunday, October 29th from 9:00am to 3:00pm at the Darboy Club. There will also be raffles and live music. Attendees are also encouraged to bring a donation of art supplies, children's toys, blankets, books, or gift cards to Walgreens or Starbucks. Those items will be donated to the Ronald McDonald House which supported the Skrede family in their time of need.