Couple donates entire registry to kids with chronic or terminal illnesses…

Kristin Klingshirn and her fiancée, Bart Mattingly, prepare for their April 22 wedding.

Kristin Klingshirn, co-host of Q100’s “The Bert Show,” and her fiancé, Bart Mattingly, have been together for 10 years. Since they have all the household essentials, they questioned the need for a bridal registry when they began planning their April 22 Lexington, Kentucky, wedding.

It’s hard to tell who is having more fun shopping for Bert’s Big Adventure kids, Bart Mattingly and Kristin Klingshorn or Georgia, age 8, and Hailey, age 9.

Then it hit Klingshirn. Instead of toasters and towels, why not register for toys and items needed by the chronically and terminally ill kids and their families who are a part of Bert’s Big Adventure (BBA)? The gifts would include items needed while on their five day, all-expenses-paid journeys to Walt Disney World as well as benefit BBA’s Reunion Adventures and Fairy Godmother program, where volunteers visit hospitalized children daily and bring gifts.

“For me, it was a no-brainer. I’m totally committed to BBA, the organization that Bert and his now ex-wife, Stacey, founded in 2003. To date, we’ve served 185 children and their families from all over the U.S., and I’ve seen firsthand the wonderful impact it has made on their lives,” Klingshirn says.

“Bart was thrilled with the idea, and we surprised Bert [Weiss] and the crew on the air. The response from the public has been overwhelming,” Klingshirn adds. “Friends, family and listeners from all over the country flocked to Target or online to donate gifts listed on the registry. We’ve got enough backpacks for 2017, 2018 and almost 2019, and packages keep on coming. They’ve spilled over to nearly every room,” she laughs.

Even though every family needs pajamas, socks, clothing, roller bags, bathing suits, water bottles and more, the kids receive toys after the trips to help keep the memories alive. Klingshirn, who has been part of the BBA crew accompanying the families on trips to Disney since she joined the show five years ago, wanted to list toys that kids really crave. Who better to choose them than past recipients? “We invited a few BBA kids, then set them loose at Target,” she says.

With help from Kristin and Bart, two of Bert’s Big Adventure shoppers, Jordan, 11 (left), and Ziyonn, 14, choose toys for the couple’s wedding registry.

“We had a blast. Hailey, age 9, and Georgia, 8, became best friends on their Disney trip, and the adults had a hard time keeping track of them as they raced around the store making selections. I stayed with Ziyonn, 14, who can really fly in his wheelchair. I don’t know who had more fun, the kids or the adults,” she says. “All were thrilled to choose favorite toys for future recipients and, of course, they went home with one or two of their own.” Weiss said the gift was a complete shock to the team. “When Kristin and Bart told us that their goal was to get 700 gifts for Bert’s Big Adventure, all of our jaws dropped. The fact that ‘The Bert Show’ listeners donated over 3,500 is still mind boggling! That means years of Bert’s Big Adventure families will be receiving gifts.”

To show their appreciation and expand the fun, Klingshirn, Mattingly and staff members post live weekly videos on the Bert’s Big Adventure Facebook page while they open the gifts. “It’s an opportunity for us to give a shout-out to people from all over the country who have been so generous,” she says.

For more information, visit bertsbigadventure.org.

STORY: Mickey Goodman