When six-year-old Katyite Kylee WalkingStick learned that her uncle Kevin and his comrades at station 68 in Houston only had water to drink during the scorching summer months, she wanted to help; and Mission: Hydrate Houston was born.
By Ashley Lancaster | KATY MAGAZINE, September 2017 Select Photography by Steven Meador Photography
Kylee WalkingStick has been donating Gatorade to her beloved uncle Kevin, a firefighter at station 68 in Houston, and his comrades since the age of three. But when she learned that Houston firefighters like her uncle were working hard with nothing to drink at the station except water, this little one decided something needed to be done - and in a big way.
"While planning a summer bucket list, Kylee asked if we could give Gatorade to all Houston firefighters, not just her Uncle Kevin. As her mom, I had a decision to make. I could tell her no, and plant the seed that because it is too hard or seems impossible, we shouldn't even try. Or I could tell her yes, and then give it everything we've got. I said yes, not knowing how on earth it would happen," says her mother, Laura.
Beating the Heat in Houston
After doing some research, Laura discovered that each station is provided with water (usually tap) but outside of that, beverages must be purchased on their own dime. Gatorade, especially in these wicked summer months, is highly desired and needed to replace electrolytes lost while fighting fires. When asked why she wanted to start this organization, Kylee said, "I like firefighters. They help us beat the fires. Gatorade helps them because they are in hot gear and they need to cool down. The drinks help them cool down."
On a normal day in Houston, a firefighter can be required to wear up to twice his or her body weight in equipment when responding to a call, in sweltering temperatures while climbing, running, lifting, and endless physical activity. The WalkingStick family feels that tap water or bottled water is simply not enough to keep their bodies properly nourished for the work they're required to do.
Hydrating Houston's Finest
And so, Mission: Hydrate Houston was born. With help from Katy grown ups and a local non-profit, Firefighters Helping Firefighters, Kylee's heartfelt desire became a reality. On July 15, Kylee and her friends and family hosted a donation drive at Growler USA in Katy, Texas and were able to donate 572 gallons of powdered Gatorade to fire stations throughout Houston, including her uncle Kevin's.
"Mission: Hydrate Houston's goal is to educate the community about the best ways to support our firefighters, by giving hydrating sports drinks to each of the 94 stations in Houston" says Laura.
"Trying to hydrate with just water after they put their bodies under tremendous stress is extremely dangerous. We want it known throughout our city that we stand with the Houston Fire Department and that they are not forgotten about!"
JOIN THE MISSION
FOLLOW them on Facebook.
DONATE - mail hydrating sports drinks or gift cards for the purchase of hydrating sports drinks to:
Mission: Hydrate Houston 2750 FM 1463, Ste. 150 Katy, TX 77494
*There is preference for tubs of powder to make drinks by the gallon, but nothing will be turned down by Houston's heroic men and women.
ASHLEY LANCASTER is the digital editor for Katy Magazine and mother to a sweet six-year-old of her own - she is extremely proud of young Kylee's dedication to helping Houston's heroes.
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