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Office Space: Rojanae Williams, Shadow Buddies Foundation

Rojanae Williams

A hospital-stay accessory kit for buddies includes cap and booties, mask, ID band, T-shirt, shorts or skirt and discharge papers.

Shadow Buddies come in light, medium and dark skin. There are 25 types of buddies, such as Cerebral Palsy Buddy, Cleft Palate Buddy and Trach Buddy. And there are celebrity buddies such as the Tony Gonzalez Buddy, tens of thousands of which have been distributed to children and senior citizens. There’s also a Matt Cassel Buddy, which sports Chiefs shorts.

All the Shadow Buddies and their accessories are sealed in plastic so they stay clean.

Hot glue is needed for different buddy accessories.

Buddy clothes are ironed before they’re put on the buddies and packaged.

Boxes of buddies are packed for shipping all the time. They’ve been distributed to all 50 states and more than a dozen countries.

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Who she is:

Spokeswoman at Shadow Buddies Foundation in Lenexa, a nonprofit that sells and distributes condition-specific muslin dolls that provide educational and emotional support to chronically ill patients and their families.

A lot of hats : Like the other four employees, Williams does lots of everything: event planning, hospital visits, grant writing, buddy clothes ironing and box packing. Williams had worked in real estate and was looking for a career change when she joined the foundation three years ago.

Founder Marty Postlethwait started Shadow Buddies in September of 1995, inspired by her son Miles, who wanted a friend “just like me.” Filling voids :

Each doll is about 12 inches long and has heart-shaped eyes, a belly button and a smile. Each is dressed in a brightly colored hospital gown. Emergency technicians give Rescue Buddies to children who ride in ambulances. Preemie Buddies come with sheepskin, for parents of premature babies who might not be permitted to hold them for long. Health and Fitness Buddies promote healthful lifestyles. And there’s Amputee Buddy. “These are for children impacted by war, so they can relate to their parents who might come home an amputee,” Williams said.

The best part:

Williams works part time at the foundation. She has a 2-year-old son and is expecting her second child. “The hospital visits are the best part. It’s awesome to see how the buddies ease children’s pain and bring them comfort. The visits show you how precious life is. I feel truly blessed.”


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