BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - In 2014, a unique boutique opened its doors in Baton Rouge. They stocked clothing and accessories for a special clientele: women suffering from cancer.
The store is called Kelli's Kloset, named for Kelli Richmond. Kelli was a young Baton Rouge woman who died after a long battle with ovarian cancer. Before she passed though, Kelli dreamed of a place where cancer patients, who often see their weight change during treatment, could come shop for free.
"Of course, she didn't make it, but we followed through," said her father, Ron Richmond. "I think it's a fantastic thing we're doing and patients love it."
After Kelli's death in 2012, her parents started a non-profit called the Kelli Leigh Richmond Ovarian Cancer Foundation. They began by giving $1,000 each month to an ovarian cancer patient as a birthday wish.
"Unfortunately, 80 percent of ovarian cancer patients only live two years. Birthdays are really, really important to them," said Richmond.
Eventually, Richmond and his wife were able to open up Kelli's Kloset. Today, the free boutique serves about 12 patients each week. Richmond estimates they've helped more than 1,000 patients since they opened. Richmond hopes to see the number of clients grow even more.
Most of the clothing donations come from individuals, but they also receive clothes from local stores. For Richmond's wife, Patsy, the best part is seeing a patient's spirit transform with something as simple as a new outfit.
"To see the happiness on their face when they're going through treatment and it's a tough time for them," said Patsy. "They can come in and find something pretty and they feel good about themselves then."
Kelli's Kloset is open for any cancer patient who needs to find some clothes, and there's no paperwork involved. All you have to do is give the name of your doctor."
After four years in their original location, Kelli's Kloset has moved into a brand new space, located at 646 Lobdell Ave. next to Cancer Services of Baton Rouge.
Richmond says the new spot gives them more room and puts them closer to the clients they want to serve. The store is fully stocked and ready to welcome new patients and volunteers. Richmond also hopes to expand with a Kelli's Kloset on wheels, a traveling store that goes directly to patients as they're being treated at the hospital.
The success they've seen with both the store and the foundation is something Richmond says he never imagined. "I don't know if there's words for it. This was all her idea. If it wasn't for her, I don't think this would have ever come to life," said Richmond.
"She's dancing in Heaven I know, because she was a fashionista. She loved clothes and jewelry, so I know she would think this is awesome," said Patsy.
A grand opening for the new location will be held Saturday, May 27 from 12 to 2 p.m. The foundation's annual gala will be held Saturday, August 12 at Boudreaux's from 6:30 to 10 p.m.
More information on Kelli's Kloset and the foundation can be found here.