Our Heroes

And here’s where we give a shout out to people kicking tail in life!
Be inspired by our Featured Heroes’ stories of achieving their dreams and overcoming life circumstances.

Visit this page frequently to read about new Featured Heroes

Featured Hero: Ginger Kadlec

Ginger Kadlec's Image

My professional journey has taken me to a variety of venues including financial services, manufacturing and even Internet and software technology management. About six years ago, those seemingly divergent paths converged when I was asked to serve as interim executive director for a child advocacy center. I had previous experience working in public relations for the United Way and served on several boards of directors for non-profit organizations, but I had not worked in the field of child protection. You know those pivotal points in life where there’s no goin’ back? Well, that one opportunity has forever changed my life. Through working with children who were alleged victims of sexual or physical abuse and neglect,  I became a trained child forensic interviewer and guest instructor for the Child First program in Indiana. I also now serve as a volunteer instructor for a “good touch/bad touch” body safety program for elementary school students and am honored to have recently joined the Board of Directors for the child advocacy center in my hometown, the Boone County CAC.

As a child advocate, I began to truly understand how many people are impacted by child abuse. Some know about the horrors of abuse first-hand, others have some knowledge and awareness that abuse exists in their communities, while others don’t wish to discuss such an awful subject and think it only happens to ‘other people’. There are over 40 million adult survivors of child sexual abuse in the U.S. alone and those numbers are even higher when counting survivors of physical abuse and neglect. The fact is that 1 in 10 children will be sexually molested by the time they turn 18 years old. Point blank — each of us knows someone who is a survivor or is a current child abuse victim. The international pandemic of child abuse continues to fester and grow. My dream is to raise awareness of child abuse and the need for child safety and protection, as well as help prepare both adults and children to prevent or stop abuse they may encounter.

Through my website and blog, I offer information and guidance about child protection and education issues, and also share information through various social media channels including TwitterFacebookPinterest and LinkedIn. Publishing a DVD series for parents, as well as books for both adults and children is squarely on my radar, so stay tuned!

I can’t fail because over 680,000 children (that we know of annually!) are victims of abuse and neglect. I can’t fail because this cause is too important and there are far too many children who need our help. I can’t fail because there are other caring adults like me who are willing to help raise awareness, step-up and be a kid’s hero. I can’t fail because I know that, through this growing community of supporters, we WILL improve the world one child at a time.

 

While I think I’ve had my share of challenging experiences in life, there is one chapter that stands out for me. My husband John and I have been married now for 23 years. A few years into our marriage, we decided we wanted to start a family. In the years following, though, our plan was interrupted as we experienced a series of heartbreaking miscarriages. We endured the medical gamut of tests trying to understand the source of our fertility issues. Was it me or something in my genetic make-up that couldn’t carry a pregnancy? Was something happening on John’s side? After completing a slew of testing with no determining factors identified, we decided to take a break and quit trying for a while. At first, we were both deeply saddened about the prospects of undergoing advanced fertility treatments with no promise of a healthy baby at the end of the road. As it turns out, we have been blessed to have children in our lives in the form of nieces, nephews and friends’ children. In those relationships we have found a sweet source of happiness that has deeply enriched our lives…relationships that likely wouldn’t have evolved if we had children of our own.

I love kids. As I reflect on the hardships John and I endured during those challenging years, I think I have a different perspective of the gift that is children…they are a gift not granted to all. They are a gift worthy of protection. I am honored to serve as an agent of change in protecting and treasuring those precious gifts.

 

The term, “It takes a village” really hits home with me. The key player in my village is my husband, my rock. His strength, support and positive perspective on the future and on life in general were and are key influencers in my life. It was John who helped paint the future on our horizon when I thought there could be none. My friends and family in my quaint little village have also been pillars of strength and inspiration. Be it phone calls at midnight, tears over a glass of wine or belly-laughs during a walk on the Rail Trail, they are always there for me and never fail to lift me up when I need it most. I literally pinch myself…I am beyond blessed to be surrounded by such circles of love and support.

Circa 2012. Sea Pines, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. September, sometime in the morning.

I was walking our then puppy Lexi on the beach during our first vacation away with her when a surge of the professional experiences and personal puzzle pieces of my life suddenly flooded my mind. I was walking into the morning sun and remember thinking, “I’ve got ‘IT’! I need to combine my knowledge of child advocacy and protection with technology, management and marketing, and figure out a way to help children…to help raise awareness of the problem of child abuse and give people information to know what to do if it ever happens to someone they love AND how to prevent it.”

With the shore lapping at my toes, I didn’t know what “it” looked like or how “it” would work. I just knew that “it” was possible.

One of my most mind-blowing moments was when I witnessed my first child forensic interview. I was just days into my new role as interim executive director for Chaucie’s Place Child Advocacy Center and had anticipated, but wasn’t ‘really’ prepared for what I was about to see. Sitting at the oval table in what we called “The Team Room” were two detectives, a family case manager from the Department of Child Services and the deputy prosecutor who handled the lion’s share of child abuse cases in the county. I don’t recall the specifics of the case, but do recall being vividly struck by their calm, controlled demeanor as we began to watch the forensic interviewer talk with the young child via closed circuit TV. The Team Room was chilly, but I broke into a sweat as I heard the child detail events of the day she was abused. I remember this tremendous rage building inside of me, then looking at the professionals in the room who, without speaking a word, nodded, “We got this.” And they did. They were on it. I didn’t know it at the time, but that one forensic interview would forever change the course of my life.ne of my most mind-blowing moments was when I witnessed my first child forensic interview. I was just days into my new role as interim executive director for Chaucie’s Place child advocacy center and had anticipated, but wasn’t ‘really’ prepared for what I was about to see. Sitting at the oval table in what we called “The Team Room” were two detectives, a family case manager from the Department of Child Services and the deputy prosecutor who handled the lion’s share of child abuse cases in the county. I don’t recall the specifics of the case, but recall being vividly struck by their calm, controlled demeanor as we began to watch the forensic interviewer talk with the young child via closed circuit TV. The Team Room was chilly, but I broke into a sweat as I heard the child detail the events of the day she was abused. I remember this tremendous rage building inside of me, then looking at the professionals in the room who, without speaking a word, said “We got this.” And they did. They were on it. I didn’t know it at the time, but that one forensic interview would change the course of my life.

Hero (hee’-row): 1) a person who willingly or unknowingly changes the course of someone else’s life for the better; 2) a person who overcomes tremendous obstacles, inspiring the rest of us to attain a similar level of courage or commitment.

I’m happy to report there are heroes all around us and I have the pleasure of connecting with them daily! They are child abuse survivors. They are moms and dads who work diligently to protect and educate their own children to keep them safe and healthy. They are grandparents, aunts and uncles who create wonderful, loving memories of family. They are teachers who inspire kids to be their best. They are caring adults who encourage and support child development and the evolution into healthy adulthood. They are children who have the backs of their siblings, friends, classmates and cousins, looking out for one another. In honor of these heroes and to inspire others to don their own capes, I established the BeAKidsHero™ initiative to raise our collective consciousness about child abuse prevention and other issues related to child protection.

 

 

My #1 hero is my dad. He was the backbone of our family. He worked for GTE (General Telephone and Electric) for 35 years and managed to put two girls through college (with no debt…amazing in my book!) and secured my mom’s future following his death. We were never “rich” by monetary standards, but we never went without. I remember a story my dad shared with us about a time after he left the Air Force and was still trying to discover his own mission in life…he was nearly broke and struggling to get by. My grandfather gave him a silver dollar and said, “As long as you have this in your pocket, you’ll never be broke.”

Soon after my dad’s death in 2003, we found that silver dollar in his wallet. Today, I wear it as a symbol of love and gratitude to my dad, my hero (see photo). He was…and is…the ultimate “Super Man” in my book.

Gingers Medallion

I’ve been there. Actually, I’ve been in a place where I wasn’t sure what my goals were. In fact, even at age 40, I didn’t quite know what I wanted to be when I grew up. It took my circle of family and friends feeding me hope, my husband’s unconditional love and a walk on the beach with my curly-haired puppy for me to discover that new door. It took a while after that to begin to develop clarity…and that journey of definition continues for me.

I would encourage others seeking their life’s mission to hang in there! It’s funny how opportunities will often find you…but we must be open to inviting those opportunities in for a cup of coffee.

 

I am working on developing a DVD series for parents about talking with their children about keeping safe and making good decisions as they grow. My long-term dream is to write children’s books to help teach them to protect themselves. Here’s to the future and improving the world one child at a time! I ask your readers for their support in sharing information about child abuse prevention, and for helping identify children in need of protection; sadly, they are all around us. Only through locking arms in collaboration with one another will we begin to really make a dent in child abuse and help protect kids who need us most.

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Featured Hero: Chelsea Krost

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23 years old and decided last summer it was time for a challenge and exciting change, so I packed my bags and moved from NYC to LA. I have been hosting my radio show, _The Chelsea Krost Show_, since I was 16 years old and my career snowballed from there.

I am incredibly blessed!  I get to work as both a host and producer in radio, print, and TV. I am extremely passionate about my new start-up venture, “The Mpulse.” An App that is going to revolutionize the way Millennials consume and share news. But I do have to admit…I am scared to fail. Failure is not a word in my vocabulary. There is nothing wrong with being an over-achiever or a MILLENNIAL HUSTLER!

A few summers ago I had an article written about me in, The New York Observer. I was well prepared to speak to the writer about, “How incoming Freshmen can avoid the Freshmen 15.” But, once the editor arrived he told me that the Observer was interested in doing a piece on me and The Chelsea Krost platform. As you can imagine I was ecstatic and over the moon! Well, when I read the article let’s just say my smile instantly turned into tears. I was completely misquoted within the article and I was made out to be someone I clearly was not. The comments and the reaction to the article were MEAN and extremely hurtful. I couldn’t understand why this person misquoted me and wrote things that I did not and would not say. I was so upset that people had such a horrible perception of who I was just because of this one article. The nasty tweets just rubbed salt in the wound, and the tweets continued for days after the article came out. I literally remember saying to myself, “I am not sure how or if I can overcome this.” I was so hurt; all I wanted to do was disappear. After three days of hibernating, I realized that when you put yourself out there you are subjecting yourself to criticism. Not everyone is going to agree with everything that you do and there will always be haters. This experience made me SO much stronger. I chose to learn and grow from this negative experience instead of letting it get the best of me. I am that much better at what I do because of that hiccup in my career.

My family and boyfriend are my biggest supporters. I could not do what I do without their love, encouragement, and support. My mom is the reason I was able to start my career at 16. She showed me the ropes and taught me how to be my own publicist. Her background working in PR allowed us to take our idea of a radio show and actually turn it into a reality. You are as strong as your support system. I always make sure to surround myself with positive hardworking people who inspire me to continue the hustle.

I always have to check in with myself and periodically have pep-talks with just me, myself, and I. I am constantly evolving within my career and trying new things, which we all have to do to keep up with the rapid changing trends. Whenever I am about to launch something new I still get nervous. When I do something I make sure to research and prepare efficiently. This preparation makes me feel much more confident. Making small attainable goals within the big overarching goals gives me the boost I need to “just keep swimming.”

I have been so lucky to have had many amazing experiences in my life. However, my first mission trip to Africa in 2009 was truly life changing in so many ways. My family and I raised money to go to Kenya on a mission to educate women on Feminine Hygiene Care. We were able to get Kotex and Delta, and our local CBS and FOX in South Florida on board to make this mission happen. We delivered thousands of sanitary hygiene products to the women in the slums of Niarobi, Kenya and documented our journey with a CBS and FOX camera, which was made into a four part docu-series on the networks. This experience was eye opening, uplifting, humbling, and truly a once in a lifetime experience. After we returned from Africa, Kotex asked me to be their Millennial Spokesperson and my career really took off from there.

My Definition of a hero is someone who has accomplished much success in their life and takes time to share their wealth and knowledge with others!

It may sound Cliché, but my family members are my heroes.

Both my parents created their own success and asked for nothing from their parents. They are both successful, humble, and incredibly charitable. My aunt Amy is my hero because she is one of the most unique and confident people I know. My aunt is married to my aunt Adrienne and they are the best role-models who inspire me to speak out on behalf of the gay and LGBT community on The Chelsea Krost Platform. My grandparents are the strongest people I know. My grandma Elaine is a breast cancer, lung cancer, and skin cancer survivor and my grandfather is currently battling Melanoma. Both my grandparents are the happiest, most welcoming, grateful people I know. I am blessed to be surrounded by strong accomplished individuals who are my little army of heroes. Celebrity heroes of mine are Oprah, Barbara Walters, and Robin Roberts.

Life is a roller-coaster ride full of ups and downs. It is so important for people to take the time to unplug to do something that brings them joy. A re-boot is essential for success. When you allow yourself to unplug, your brain has the time to digest the abundance of information we are bombarded with every day and could inspire you on a creative path that you may not have taken. This has happened to me several times. When I allow myself a break, just recently I went on a yoga retreat with my mom and a friend, it was so refreshing and I felt creatively rejuvenated.

Yes Yes Yes!!! I am so excited about a start-up that my partner, Greg Goldner and I are working on called, The MPulse. What I can say is that it is going to be a digital news outlet created by Millennials for Millennials. We hope to revolutionize the way we digest and share content amongst our peers. We also have plans to create original programming for our platform in the near future. Aside from the launch of The MPulse, I host weekly Twitter Chats on Tuesdays and my Radio Show is Live on Wednesdays. We are always speaking to incredible Millennial innovators, entrepreneurs, bloggers, speakers, etc. I always update upcoming events on my website ChelseaKrost.com and via Twitter @chelseakrost.