Missouri woman donates birthday gifts to local foster kids in honor of late husband, son

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Destiny Klimascewski of O'Fallon, Mo., wraps gifts Wednesday afternoon at the United Way of the Mark Twain Area in Hannibal, Mo. | Megan Duncan

HANNIBAL, Mo. – Destiny Mantia’s life changed forever on September 20, 2014 when her husband Corey and 1-year-old son Parker were killed by a drunk driver.

The driver, who had a suspended license, slammed into the family’s Chrysler Town and Country at a speed of 87 MPH on September 20, 2014 on highway 47 between Hawk Point and Troy, Missouri. Parker was killed instantly and Corey died within 24 hours.

Nine years later, Destiny — now Destiny Klimascewski — was helping wrap about 200 birthday gifts for 40 foster children at the Hannibal United Way of the Mark Twain Area.

Parker would have celebrated his 10th birthday on June 23 — which was also National Widow’s Day. Klimascewski honored her son and husband by donating many gifts to Birthday Blessings, a Missouri based non-profit. It provides personalized birthday gifts and supplies for a birthday party, along with many other services, to more than 1,000 foster kids throughout northeast Missouri.

Birthday Blessings was just the organization Klimascewski was searching for. While she has done several drives for foster children over the years, she wanted to do something special for Parker’s 10th birthday. She started an Amazon wish list to buy birthday gifts for kids in foster care.

“I just wanted to help kids in the foster care system have a birthday that they may not have been able to have,” she said.

Birthday donations for the foster children began flooding Klimascewski’s door after she wrote an article posted on Fox News, where she shared her story along with the Amazon wish list for foster children with readers. 

“Within minutes of the article being posted, our Amazon list was completely full. I had to constantly keep adding more to it,” she said.

After various organizations turned the donations down, Klimascewski found Shannon VonAllmen, executive director of Birthday Blessings. Klimascewski realized they shared the mission to make sure no foster child was left without birthday gifts.

“I stumbled across Birthday Blessings, and it was like our paths were meant to cross,” she said. 

VonAllmen was blown away by the donation from Klimascewski.

“We are not funded by the government at all, so we provide services based on the compassion and kind-heartedness of individuals,” VanAllmen  said.

Klimascewski, now remarried with a 3-year-old and 5-year-old, told her kids that the gifts arriving at the door were for “Parker’s friends” and it was a good lesson for them.

“It opened up so we could talk about the fact that these are for Parker’s friends who don’t get birthday parties like we do. They know Baby Parker lives in the clouds with his daddy and Baby Jesus,” she said. “They are super protective of all of Parker’s friends’ toys and all of their party stuff. Every time a delivery came, they ran and grabbed it and put it in Parker’s room.”

Klimascewski takes on topic of drunk driving

According to Klimascewski, drunk drivers only serve an average of 5-7 years in Missouri after killing someone.

In the opinion piece she wrote for Fox News, Klimascewski said the average drunk driver will drink and drive usually around 80 times before ever being caught.

“How was a multiple offender still on the roads able to kill my family?” she said. “My family’s killer had a suspended license, but how can we expect a criminal to follow the rule of not driving? When will drinking and driving not be so socially acceptable? What has to happen for everyone to realize how dangerous this really is?”

Klimascewski said despite the millions of people whose lives are shattered by drunk driving, it continues to be socially accepted.

“You can look around at any time you are going out to eat and look at any of the tables around you and see people having a drink and then going to drive. A lot of people think it’s just one, but one drink is going to affect me differently than it’s going to affect you,” she said. “That one drink at dinner is also showing your teens that it’s OK to drink and drive and sending a message that it’s OK to do that.”

She speaks to groups on the dangers of drunk driving and writes articles that reach people around the world. She shares pictures of the non-graphic pictures of the crash so people can see the vehicle.

“I am just determined to make people hear me and share the dangers,” she said. “And I share the statistics.”

She took an even bigger step this summer to make a change – into the classroom as a student. 

She started taking classes to pursue her law degree, because she wants to be the person who changes the drunk driving laws.

“If I don’t, who will?” Klimascewski said. “I make my voice heard even when people don’t want to listen.”

Local drive for Birthday Blessings

Birthday Blessings is having a toy drive throughout July for birthday gifts to foster kids. Donations can be dropped off at the Hannibal Farm and Home Supply or United Way of the Mark Twain Area office. For more information, follow Birthday Blessings on Facebook or visit their website at birthday-blessings.org.

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