Encinitas nonprofit Passion 4 K.I.D.S. donates car to family of 15-year-old battling cancer

Outside the San Marcos DMV office Monday, March 16, Carla Ramirez (right) stands with her low-mileage 2002 Ford Taurus SEL she just received from Passion 4 K.I.D.S., founded by Charles and Linda Van Kessler (left) of Encinitas. Ramirez’s son Christopher, 15, has cancer.
(Charlie Neuman)

Last June, Carla Beaty and her three children moved to Santa Ana with her four children, including 15-year-old Christopher Ramirez, who was diagnosed with leukemia a few months prior.

Shortly after they settled in their new home city, a trailer with all their family belongings was stolen.
After Carla’s story circulated on social media, Encinitas-based nonprofit Passion 4 K.I.D.S. took notice.

With help from the organization’s founders, Charles and Linda Van Kessler, she was able to replace some household possessions by receiving donated items from the Van Kesslers and their network of friends and supporters.

Then came the biggest gift of all. On March 16, Passion 4 K.I.D.S. gave Carla a 2002 Ford Taurus in the parking lot of the San Marcos DMV branch on Rancheros Drive, where they then went inside and applied for a registration.

“I couldn’t believe it, I just feel blessed,” said Beaty, recalling the moment she found out she was getting a car.

There were many personal items inside the stolen trailer, including family photos, that can’t be replaced. But, along with the clothing, shoes and other everyday items donated to Beaty and her children by Passion 4 K.I.D.S., the Taurus will help make life a little easier.

The car, which is 18 years old but only has about 65,000 miles on it, was donated to the nonprofit. Linda Van Kessler said she and her husband immediately thought of Beaty. The Van Kesslers had it tuned up and ready to go before turning it over to her.

Beaty moved west with her four children so Christopher, in 10th grade and being homeschooled, could be treated at Children’s Hospital of Orange County. He has been battling leukemia for a year, undergoing chemotherapy and other treatments. He started playing soccer at age 3, and when he started struggling on the field, his family knew something was wrong.

He mom said he’s “the best kid ever.”

Passion 4 K.I.D.S. started with a mission to help children who are facing life-threatening challenges or are otherwise in need of assistance. Charles Van Kessler, born in Amsterdam, lost his family to the Nazi concentration camps during World War II, and lived in a state-run orphanage until age 10, when he ran away. Years later, he said he felt compelled to offer the kind of support to children who need it most that he didn’t have.

“No matter where you start in life, it’s how you finish,” he said.

The nonprofit has helped many children recovering from injuries, medical conditions and facing other hardships.

“We’re just a small family charity,” Linda Van Kessler said. “We do the best we can.”
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