Starlight Gowns Encourage Imagination for One-Year-Old Karter

Karter loves walking the hospital hallways dressed up as Hulk, showing off his huge smile and even bigger personality. For a child who’s spent more than 90 days in the hospital battling a rare form of Leukemia, you’d never be able to tell he wasn’t enjoying his life as much as any other kid.

The resilience we see in Karter is astounding and inspiring. That’s why we’re sharing his courageous story for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

Karter’s Journey

It was just a few months after Karter’s first birthday when he began having frequent ear infections. He spiked a fever just two days after placing tubes in his ears. Tests revealed his white blood count was at an overwhelming 275,000. An hour later, he was flown via helicopter to Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Karter is one of the youngest to ever be diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia.

“Karter had a rough start when diagnosed and lived on a ventilator in the PICU for two and a half weeks,” Krista, Karter’s mom said. “Since then, he has fought back and continues to amaze us with his smile and comedic personality.”

Surprise Starlight Visit

Starlight and players from the Washington Spirit women’s soccer team got to experience Karter’s contagious personality first-hand. Hope for Henry, a nonprofit, that is reinventing how hospitals care for seriously ill children through innovative programs, helped arrange the party with toys, arts and crafts and other fun activities. Thanks to our partnership with Athletes for Hope, the players kicked the soccer ball around, signed autographs and delivered Starlight Gowns to kids at Children’s National. Karter transformed into Dr. Karter and his gown helped keep him comfy during his 4th round of chemotherapy.

Washington Spirits soccer player, Caprice Dydasco, delivers a Starlight Gown to Karter.


“We loved the gowns! They are so soft and the snaps are easy to work when it’s time to access his Broviac central line in his chest for chemo,” Krista said. “Karter thought it was so much fun to dress up and be a doctor and it brought a smile to his face!”

Better Days Ahead

Karter is officially in remission and has one more cycle after his current round of chemotherapy. In a few months, he’ll be able to go home and spend time with his older sister.

“Karter’s favorite thing in the whole wide world is his older sister. They are inseparable and live for one another.”

Karter’s positive outlook has a lot to do with his mom’s strong-will.

“My advice for families in the same position with long hospital stays is to keep faith that there are better days ahead and lean on other families that can relate,” Krista said. “We have tried our best to remain positive so that Karter can feel it radiate off of us and he can continue to fight!”

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

This year, 10,270 children ages 0 to 14 will be diagnosed with cancer in the U.S, according to the National Cancer Institute. Pediatric cancer patients remain in the hospital for months at a time. We can make sure they still have a playful childhood.

Donate a Starlight Gown today and you can help other kids transform into superheroes just like Karter and bring a smile to their face.

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About the Author

Tara Millspaugh

Digital Media Manager

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