Spring-based Kailee Mills Foundation gifts house to four siblings orphaned following car crash

After their parents were killed in a car crash in January 2019, the four Ferguson children were split up to live with different friends and family members. Last Thursday, they were reunited under one roof in their hometown of Groesbeck, thanks to the Kailee Mills Foundation. (Courtesy Kailee Mills Foundation)
After their parents were killed in a car crash in January 2019, the four Ferguson children were split up to live with different friends and family members. Last Thursday, they were reunited under one roof in their hometown of Groesbeck, thanks to the Kailee Mills Foundation. (Courtesy Kailee Mills Foundation)

After their parents were killed in a car crash in January 2019, the four Ferguson children were split up to live with different friends and family members. Last Thursday, they were reunited under one roof in their hometown of Groesbeck, thanks to the Kailee Mills Foundation. (Courtesy Kailee Mills Foundation)

After their parents, Daryl and Johana, were killed in a car crash in January 2019, the Ferguson children—Bryston, 18; Camden, 16; Kovan, 13; and Jaylee, 8—were split up to live with different friends and family members in cities across Texas.

Last Thursday, May 21, the four children were reunited under one roof in their hometown of Groesbeck, thanks to the Kailee Mills Foundation.

The Kailee Mills Foundation is a Spring-based nonprofit that promotes seat belt awareness and provides financial assistance and counseling services for families who have lost a loved one in a car accident.

"Kailee Mills was in a car accident Oct. 28, 2017, and there were four teenagers in the car. It was Halloween weekend, and she removed her seat belt for a second to slide over to take a picture with her friend in the backseat. And in that moment, the driver got into an accident," said Briana McCulloch, Kailee's aunt and executive director of the Kailee Mills Foundation. "Everyone else was buckled, and they were all completely fine with no injuries, but because Kailee was unbuckled in that moment, she was actually ejected and killed immediately."

Since then, McCulloch, along with Kailee's parents, David and Wendy Mills, who serve as the nonprofit's president and operations manager, respectively, have been working in the Spring community and beyond to spread Kailee's story and emphasize the importance of wearing seat belts. The Kailee Mills Foundation has also been the spokesperson for the Texas Department of Transportation's Click It or Ticket campaign for two consecutive years, McCulloch said.


"David started doing research on statistics about seat belts and realized that it is a huge problem that he felt like wasn't talked about enough," McCulloch said. "I think it was kind of his way of healing to jump in and take action and just start using her legacy, because she was so well-known and so well-liked in the community, ... to spread awareness about seat belts and change lives."

Most recently, after hearing about their story, the foundation turned its attention to reuniting the Ferguson family.

"The kids are really, really great kids, and so when [David] went out and met with the family, he just felt so pulled to help them. And their situation was unique because they didn't just suffer a loss—it was four kids that lost both of their parents, and when that happened, they ended up getting displaced. And they were all living separately, and that was a time when they needed to be together more than ever so they could grieve their parents together," McCulloch said.

After five months of campaigning and setting up a GoFundMe for the family, the Kailee Mills Foundation was able to raise nearly $169,000 to purchase and furnish a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house in the Ferguson family's hometown, where the children now live with their grandmother. Any remaining funds will be used by the family for home-related expenses such as utilities and property taxes, McCulloch said.

"It was just a really tragic situation, and we just dug in our heels and said, 'We've got to help this family. We're going to do everything that we can do to get them a home so that they can be back together as a family, the way their parents would have wanted,'" McCulloch said. "It's the biggest thing that we've ever done."

In addition to surprising the family with a new home, the foundation was also able to award Bryston, the oldest Ferguson child, with a $20,000 scholarship, as he is planning to begin his college education this fall. As the children are big fans of baseball, McCulloch said the foundation was able to get Micky Mantle's son, David, to meet the children at the home's unveiling and gift them personalized baseball cards.

"Our goal was to have them in the house by the end of the school year, and we had them in the house the day before Bryston graduated from high school," McCulloch said.

Like many nonprofits, McCulloch said, the Kailee Mills Foundation has had to cancel most of its fundraising events over the past few months due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. However, McCulloch said the nonprofit is planning to host a golf tournament in December, and registration for that event will open within the next month. Proceeds from events like these help the Kailee Mills Foundation continue its mission to promote seat belt safety and support families like the Fergusons.

By Hannah Zedaker
Born and raised in Cypress, Texas, Hannah Zedaker graduated from Sam Houston State University in 2016 with a bachelor's degree in mass communication and a minor in political science. She began as an intern with Community Impact Newspaper in 2015 and was hired upon graduation as a reporter for The Woodlands edition in May 2016. In January 2019, she was promoted to serve as the editor of the Spring/Klein edition where she covers Spring ISD and Harris County Commissioners Court, in addition to business, development and transportation news.


MOST RECENT

Dozens of clinics throughout the county offer COVID-19 testing services. (William C. Wadsack/Community Impact Newspaper)
COVID-19 testing locations remain open in Montgomery County and more local news

Read the latest Houston-area business and community news.

Heading into Thanksgiving, Texas Medical Center continues to report uptick in hospitalizations

The total number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized at Texas Medical Center facilities has increased by more than 50% over two weeks.

The Harris County Justice Administration Department is working to release final reports and launch pilot programs in early 2021. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Harris County Justice Administration Department makes headway on countywide criminal justice studies

The department is working to release the final versions of several studies and launch pilot programs with local law enforcement groups in early 2021.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced a COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan for the state Nov. 23 for a vaccine he said could be available as soon as December. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announces COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan

The vaccine could start being distributed "as early as next month," according to a Nov. 23 news release.

Harris County Precinct 4 and the Champions Municipal Utility District celebrated the completion of Champions Drive in a ribbon-cutting ceremony Nov. 19—just weeks before the 2020 U.S. Women's Open Golf Tournament is scheduled to take place in the area. (Courtesy Harris County Precinct 4)
Harris County Precinct 4, Champions MUD celebrate completion of Champions Drive ahead of 2020 U.S. Women's Open Golf Tournament

In anticipation of increased traffic on the roadway for the 75th annual event, Harris County Precinct 4 and the Champions Municipal Utility District began construction in September 2018 on a $13.3 million joint project to upgrade Champions Drive from a two-lane asphalt road to a two-lane concrete paved section with improved drainage between FM 1960 and Cypress Creek.

In addition to chicken, The Port of Peri Peri will also offer lamb chops, salads, burgers, pitas and wraps as well as small bites such as hummus and falafel. (Courtesy The Port of Peri Peri)
The Port of Peri Peri coming soon to The Vintage area

This will be the sixth Texas location for the eatery, which is known for its open-flame-grilled chicken basted with its signature sauces made from African bird's eye chilies mixed with fresh herbs and spices.

As coronavirus cases continue to rise among teachers and students, Spring, Klein and Cy-Fair ISDs have reported that an 32,783 more students are learning in person during the second grading period than were on campus at the start of the 2020-21 school year. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
More than 32,700 students in Spring, Klein and Cy-Fair ISDs switch to on-campus learning for second grading period

Spring, Klein and Cy-Fair ISDs have reported that an 32,783 more students are learning in person during the second grading period than were on campus at the start of the school year.

Despite losing his position on the Klein ISD board of trustees by 26 votes in the Nov. 3 general election, incumbent Doug James has been appointed to fill a Position 2 vacancy after the winning challenger, Alvin Vaughn, declined his position as a trustee. (Courtesy Doug James)
Klein ISD appoints incumbent Doug James to fill vacant Position 2 after winning challenger declines candidacy

"I want to thank the Klein community for voting for me," Vaughn said in a statement. "Winning the election is more than I could have hoped for, but upon further investigation as to the time requirements of this position and in consultation with my family, I have decided to decline this position."

The ice cream parlor offers more than 50 flavors of ice cream; yogurt; sherbet; ice; and fat-free, no-sugar-added ice cream available by the quart, pint, scoop or cone. (Courtesy Handel's Homemade Ice Cream)
Handel's Homemade Ice Cream now open on Spring Cypress Road

The ice cream parlor offers more than 50 flavors of ice cream; yogurt; sherbet; ice; and fat-free, no-sugar-added ice cream available by the quart, pint, scoop or cone.

Laura Colangelo
Q&A: Laura Colangelo discusses challenges facing private schools during pandemic

Colangelo said private schools have adapted to remote learning and other obstacles in 2020 despite less revenue and a 9% decline in enrollment statewide.

Shake Shack opened its new standalone location at The Woodlands Mall in November. (Courtesy Christine Han)
Shake Shack opens in The Woodlands Mall and more Houston-area updates

Read the latest business and community news from the Greater Houston area.