Life for Casey Baynes is all about family. Her love of family is why she created the Casey Cares Foundation, and that same strong belief in family ties is reflected in nearly all of her favorite things.
Baynes was working with a charity that granted wishes for critically ill children when she says she discovered that what families really wanted wasn't just one big wish to come true.
"What about a movie and pizza night at home because [a child's] immune system was too depleted to go to a movie theater? What about the little things [where] they can just act like a normal family?" says Baynes.
"Going to a ballgame they now couldn't afford because they now put their money towards medical expenses. So, [helping them with] the tickets, the parking, the snacks, the sodas, the hot dog — all of that stuff is why I started Casey Cares. Not just to help the critically ill child, but the moms, the dads, the siblings as well."
When she created the foundation in 2000, Baynes and her husband, Michael Baynes, Amerihome CEO, had yet to start their own family.
"We joke around the house that Casey Cares was my first baby," she says.
Now a 37-year-old mother of three — Mackenzie, 12, Jake, 10, and Hunter, 9 — Baynes says she deals with trying to balance work and home life, like other working parents.
"People think that what I do is very emotional and very family driven; that I have that balance.…I love what I do. I love seeing the faces – the smiles – of the families and children. The hugs never get old and it drives [me] to do more and more," Baynes says.
"But I constantly need to remind myself that I have my own family and I need to spend ample time with them and [have] experiences with them," she says. "I know that it affects them, because [although] my kids love Casey Cares, they'll say, 'This isn't a Casey Cares event, is it?' [And I say,] 'No, we're all just going out!' "
Her favorite things
Painting by a Casey Cares patient and his sister that hangs in her office at work. "You can just tell it comes from the heart. ... We still have tough days at Casey Cares. It's not all fun. After we've heard that 50th "no" [to fundraising requests,] we take a look at that and we think, 'You know what? We'll keep working.' "
Baseball and glove. "I carry a baseball everywhere I go. It's just something about the grip. If I'm thinking about something, contemplating something, trying to work through a problem, I will just hold the ball and feel the seams. And playing catch [is how] everybody in my family connects after school. Even if we don't have a lot of time before sports [practice], we'll go outside and play catch. You'd be surprised how much great conversation comes from that. It's not as intimidating as being across the table from somebody."
"Washington: A Life" by Ron Chernow. "I love to read. I'm dyslexic, so I also have the book on tape in the car. I like to read about all of our past presidents. George Washington is such an interesting figure. He had a different reputation than actually what had happened. He [was] a supreme marketer, I think."
Collection of antique and vintage ice-water pitchers. "I love antiques. I love to collect things and add to [collections]. My grandmother — who also loves antiques — started collecting the ice-water pitchers. She handed it down to my mom. My mom added to it. She has since handed it down to me. [The collection] speaks to what our culture used to be about."
Collection of clocks. "I love, love, love clocks. My dad is a huge clock collector. When I was little, I used to spend so much time with him — repairing them, fixing the hands on them, getting a new pendulum — without knowing that I was probably just enjoying the time with my father. ... It's a really nice reminder to me of my childhood."
Vintage jukebox. "We grew up dancing to [music] from a jukebox my parents had in their house. It was always a great time. So when I graduated from high school, my parents gave me this jukebox. I love listening to the 45's [in it] and still love '60s music."
Vintage telephone booth. "Growing up, the joke around the house was that I always had a phone growing out of my ear. I received the booth as a gift, and my father and grandfather refinished the whole thing for me. My kids cannot believe that we used to have a rotary phone. They think it's the most absurd thing they've ever seen, with a cord attaching it and everything."
Her dogs. Lilly, a Maltese/poodle mix, and Lacy, a Shih Tzu/poodle mix, whom she loves dressing up. "I'm that girl in the pet store that, if I can't find matching outfits, I don't get them."
Fake tree in the kids' playroom. "There was a store going out of business in the mall, and I loved that tree. So I purchased it, not knowing how heavy it was. It's painted concrete. It took quite a few people to get it all the way upstairs."
Boating bracelet. "My family really enjoys time out on the water. We find it relaxing. … My grandfather had given my grandmother this boating bracelet with boating flags that [spell out] 'I love you.' It reminds me of them and it reminds me of good times out on the water."