Sandra Ward Gibson Endowment Fund


When Kathie Allen Lunsford moved to Decatur at 12 years old it didn’t take long for her to meet Sandra Ward Gibson, the girl who lived next door. It was apparent from early on that Sandra was a bit different than most kids her age. That didn’t matter much to Kathie though. She and Sandra did all the things that good friends do. They would go to the movies, grab shakes from the local five and dime, and swim at the local pool.


At that time, it wasn’t quite understood from what condition Sandra suffered. Developmental disability screening had not progressed to what it is today. It was clear, however, that Sandra was in need of more assistance than others, particularly when it came to opening up with kids her age. Sandra’s mother was thrilled to have Kathie in her daughter’s life. She knew then what has become evident now – children who suffer from conditions like Sandra’s need friends like Kathie to nurture and support them. Kathie continued to be a support to the Gibsons throughout their lives.


Eventually, after Mr. Gibson passed away, Mrs. Gibson became worried about who would care for her daughter when she was gone. She asked Kathie and her husband, Wayne, if they would become Sandra’s caretakers and they willingly agreed. The Lunsfords continued their care for Sandra the remaining years of her life until she passed away in 2010 at the age of 72.


Having grown up with Sandra, Kathie understands just how vital it is for young adults with developmental disorders to receive the support necessary to become independent. Scanning The Catholic Foundation’s newsletter five years after Sandra passed away, Kathie found inspiration. The Sandra Ward Gibson Endowment Fund will support organizations that help young adults with special needs break through employment barriers and gain more independence. Kathie hopes that through the fund and support of the community, these children will feel “looked after, cared for, and loved”—a fitting tribute to Sandra. She also wants to inspire others who want to help. Starting a fund with The Catholic Foundation was easy and rewarding, she says. Now Kathie plans to add to the fund each year so it will soon be eligible to help children in need.


We all have a calling in life, something God has put in our hearts. Have you found yours?


Give to the Sandra Ward Gibson Endowment Fund