By Anthony Pellegrino, Lindsay Burnworth and Alex Koscevic
Making life a little sweeter is more than just a saying to Nicole Sloane and the family at Naticakes frozen yogurt shop in Morgantown.
In August 2007, Sloane received a phone call that would change the lives of her family forever.
“I couldn’t believe it, it happened so quickly.”
Shortly after being put to bed, Sloane’s 23-month-old niece, Natalie, whose nickname was Naticakes, passed away in her sleep. Her heart suddenly stopped.
“She basically died of a heart attack,” Sloane said. “It was a blocked coronary artery.”
Sloane said that with the tragedy came a tremendous amount of support. Friends and loved ones did not hesitate to donate time and money to help the family cope with the loss.
“So many people rallied around them to do anything they could,” Sloane said. “People were just around them constantly, and a lot of money came in because people wanted to do something.”
With that, the Natalie Wynn Carter Foundation was born.
The foundation has two primary goals: to provide spaces for children to play, through renovating or building new playgrounds, and to pair up with other organizations that also do great works in the lives of children.
The foundation’s first project, which took place in 2008, was the renovation of the playground at Crossroads Christian Church, in their hometown of Lexington, Ky.
“My sister and brother-in-law had a vision: to create a space for kids to play,” Sloane said. “It makes them happy to see kids playing and so forth.”
Bryan Carter, Natalie’s father and the founder of the Natalie Wynn Carter Foundation, said donating the money to the construction of playgrounds seemed like the perfect way to carry on Natalie’s legacy.
“We spend a lot of time at playgrounds, and she always enjoyed that,” Carter said. “I think it was just more a way that we could bring, on an ordinary day, a little bit of fun and smiles to other kids, then that was worth it to us.”
Sloane said she has a love for philanthropy and people, and said she wanted to do something that would carry the foundation forward with revenue, and that’s how she and her husband came up with the idea for Naticakes.
The store’s mission is to generate awareness and funds for the Natalie Wynn Carter Foundation. A portion of its profits directly benefits the foundation.
“I just feel like a lot of people go through tragedies like this, and they don’t do anything about it,” said Katelyn Chenoweth, a Naticakes employee. “It’s great that she’s doing something about it, like she’s putting it out there, and she’s turning something horrible into something great.”
Sloane said that although the foundation does good things for many children, The Natalie Wynn Carter Foundation desires to be something different.
“They just try to find needs that are already out there,” Sloane said. “There are already so many people already doing fabulous things, and they don’t want to be just one more group doing something.”
The foundation’s primary mission is to aid other organizations in accomplishing their various projects, including the rebuilding of an orphanage in China. Chenoweth said the good works behind Naticakes makes working there an experience like no other.
“The whole story behind it, about her niece and everything, it was a good company to work for,” she said. “Nicole really gets to know us really well. It’s just so much better than any place you could possibly work in that aspect.”