Like most parents, Chuck and Carol Bildstein fell in love with their daughter the moment she was born.
It was October 3, 1990, when Chelsey took her first breath. She was the couple’s third child, and she was welcomed by two doting big brothers.
The Bildstein family of Anamosa, Iowa, went on to have another daughter, and life for the family of six became busy.
Shuffling around their children and balancing various extra-curricular activities – including Chelsey’s competitive softball schedule – proved to be challenging, yet fulfilling, for the Bildsteins.
Before they knew it, their young children had grown up.
Chelsey graduated high school and went on to earn her Bachelor’s degree from Saint Ambrose University. Her parents were proud as they watched her flourish into a young woman and eagerly head out into the world with a new job.
Her future was bright.
But in 2013, shortly after celebrating her 23rd birthday, Chelsey was thrown a curve ball that no amount of competitive softball skills would’ve prepared her for: She was diagnosed with uterine cancer.
Chelsey made the difficult decision to have a full hysterectomy. During the surgery, doctors discovered she had another primary cancer; they found a tumor on one of her ovaries.
“The doctor was confident they were able to get all of the cancer out during surgery,” said Chuck who recalls watching his daughter go through grueling chemotherapy treatments for 18 weeks.
“Two weeks after her final treatment, she went in for what should have been her all-clear,” he said. “Instead, we got the news that the cancer had spread throughout her body.”
All of Chelsey’s major organs were affected, and then came the diagnosis: Terminal.
Less than a month after her terminal diagnosis, Chelsey died.
And life for the Bildstein family would never be the same, but they would choose to honor her in a way that would change the lives of dozens of families and children across the state by fulfilling Chelsey’s final wish – to help adoptive families in her memory.
Before Chelsey was diagnosed with terminal cancer, she had researched adoption. Having biological children wasn’t an option for her after her hysterectomy, but she knew she wanted to be a mom and believed adoption would be a great avenue to fulfill that dream.
“During one of the difficult discussions she had with us, she asked us to help a family with the cost of adoption,” said Chuck. “She told us that by helping a family it would be like the baby was hers too. She so badly wanted to be a mom, and this was her way of accomplishing it.”
In 2014, the Bildsteins established a foundation in her name – Chelsey’s Dream Foundation – which helps families in the adoption process by providing financial and emotional support.
“We are just Chelsey’s messengers,” said Chuck. “She is leading her foundation from above. The families she has brought together are becoming close friends and all have expressed extreme love and respect for Chelsey. Our family loves them like they are part of us.”
The Foundation is an approved 501(c)3 charitable organization. Donations are accepted by sending a check or money order to: Chelsey’s Dream Foundation, 200 East Liberty Street, Anamosa, IA 52205. In addition donations are accepted at Fidelity Bank & Trust, 107 South Garnavillo Street, Anamosa, IA 52205.
To obtain more information or to request a Grant Application form families can email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.