Kidd Kraddick called Kidd’s Kids Day — an annual day when the Kidd Kraddick in the Morning Show dedicates itself to raising funds to take terminally and chronically ill children and their families on a trip to Disney World — the most important KKITM event of the year.
“This is the one day I get to put on my big-boy pants and not be a fool,” the Las Colinas-based, nationally syndicated Kraddick told DFW.com in 2011. “Not to just get in there and try to make ’em laugh at all costs.”
This year, that day takes place Wednesday — for the first time, without Kraddick, who died unexpectedly July 27 at age 53.
But Kidd’s Kids is staying in the family — his daughter, Caroline Cradick (Kraddick’s real name was David Cradick), has taken over leadership of the Kraddick Foundation, which includes Kidd’s Kids. She also will host the trip to Disney World, which will be Nov. 21-25.
“When I graduated college, my dad had a talk with me that I haven’t really shared with a lot of people,” Cradick, a Fort Worth resident, says during a brief phone interview. “He said, ‘I hope at some point to groom you to run this thing.’ But I never imagined I would be doing it that [quickly]. So it’s surreal, but I kind of feel like I was born to do it, and it’s really the thing that keeps me going. It’s the gift that he gave me that makes my grieving process so much easier.”
Born for the job
In a way, Caroline Cradick was literally born to do it. Before she was born in 1990, doctors told Kraddick and his then-wife, Carol, that their baby could be born with a twisted femur, leaving her unable to walk. Kraddick prayed that she would be born healthy, striking a deal with God that if she was, he would use his radio show to help other kids. Caroline was born healthy.
Kraddick founded the charity in 1991, inspired by a news story about a woman whose car had been stolen but who was far more concerned about her 7-year-old daughter’s wheelchair, which was in the car. The girl had cerebral palsy, and the chair was her only way of being mobile. He told the story to listeners, who by the end of the show donated enough money to buy the girl a new wheelchair.
That grew into a bus ride that took five kids and their families to SeaWorld in San Antonio, and from that into its current incarnation that flies as many as 60 children and their families on a five-day trip highlighted by the Disney World visit.
As Caroline grew up, Kraddick often talked about her on his show, and she accompanied him and his cast on many of the Kidd’s Kids trips. With the sudden death of her father this year, she found herself thrown into the deep end and learning to swim with the growing charity.
“It’s hard, because I haven’t been on the trip since I’ve been away at school,” said Cradick, who graduated from Oklahoma City University in 2012 (her last Kidd’s Kids trip was in 2007). “Things have changed since I’ve been in attendance. This year I am hosting, but it will be a lot of observing, just seeing what’s changed for the good, what’s changed for the bad that I want to correct. It will be a different year for me, because it won’t be how I’m used to it.”
The trip has grown every year — the last time Cradick went, there were 20 families, as opposed to the 60 or so when Kraddick talked to DFW.com in 2011.
The impact the trip made on the children and their families was clear after Kraddick’s death, when people who had been on previous Kidd’s Kids trips visited the KKITM in the morning studios in Las Colinas and left memorial messages along with other fans. The Kidd’s Kids and their families often stayed in touch with Kraddick and KKITM cast members Kellie Rasberry, Big Al Mack, Jose “J-Si” Chavez, Jenna Owens and producer Shanon Murphy.
“There’s so much loyalty in this,” Cradick says, but then there’s a lot of loyalty among KKITM listeners, and the support helped Cradick deal with her grief. Her Twitter following jumped from a couple of hundred to 7,000 in a matter of days, and three months later, she’s at 20,000.
“A lot of fans are still coming up to me, giving me hugs, telling me that they feel for me,” says Cradick, who earned her bachelor of arts degree in musical theater and sang at a public memorial for her father Aug. 15 in Dallas. “When everyone else goes away, [the fans] are still there,” she says, “which is unreal.”
Cradick says she will be on site at Southwest Airlines on Kidd’s Kids day, and touring the hangar the day before. “I, too, am now putting my big-girl pants on,” she says with a laugh, “because I can be kind of a goofball, too. But this is serious. Everyone involved is so much fun, but it’s time for me to kind of buck up, as my dad would say, and get ready, get everything together.” After the trip, she’ll focus on overseeing the foundation.
The nationally syndicated Kidd Kraddick in the Morning show airs locally on KHKS/106.1 FM “KISS-FM,” which was Kraddick’s radio home since the station launched in 1993. The KKITM cast has been going strong since Kraddick’s death, and will be asking listeners for donations. They can be made online through the Kidd’s Kids website, www.KiddsKids.com; via smartphone at www.KiddsKids.com/ Mobile; through the Southwest Airlines Kidd’s Kids Day Donation Hotline 888-792-5439, from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday; or by texting “KIDD” to “52000” to donate $10.
The fundraising effort goes on beyond the end of KKITM at 10 a.m.; in 2011, Kraddick raced from the Las Colinas studios to WFAA/Channel 8’s Victory Park studios for an appearance with several families on Good Morning Texas (the last hour of KKITM is an encore, which enabled Kraddick and other cast members to be in two places at once).
Cradick says she’ll be trying to be multiple places at once, too.
“I have such a big personality that they didn’t want to keep me at the station, because they have what they’re doing there down to a science,” she says. “They wanted me and my personality to be doing the interactions with people from the outside. … Thank God I have my dad’s genes, because I’m good at winging it.”