NEW ORLEANS, La. - Katherine Klimitas was diagnosed with brittle bone disease just two weeks before she was born.
Brittle bone disease, or osteogenesis imperfecta, is a disorder that causes bones to break more easily. There are different levels of the disease. Some don't get diagnosed until puberty, while some have a life expectancy of just two years.
At 28 years old, Katherine is the size of a toddler. She has broken over 500 bones, so many she stopped counting at the age of 10.
That's also when she sold her first piece of artwork.
"I couldn't run around and play soccer with my friends when I was little, so my mom got me a watercolor set and art just became my thing," Katherine told WGNO.
After graduating from Loyola University with an art degree, Katherine started her own graphic design business. Both of her parents were business owners and showed her the ropes at a young age.
"It's just easier for me to work for myself, if I break a bone I don't have to call in sick, and I can break a bone by just sneezing or coughing. It happens a lot."
She's not one to feel sorry for herself, despite the limitations of her life-threatening disease.
"My parents never let me feel bad for myself, plus it's no fun to be a victim all the time," said Klimitas.
Both of her parents were veterinarians. Her mother still owns her own practice; her father passed away several years ago of a rare lung disease.
"I have been around animals my entire life, so that is what I like to paint," said Klimitas.
She's now teaming up with the Humane Society of Louisiana to promote the nonprofit's animal protection and advocacy efforts.
The statewide charity, based out of New Orleans, is offering a wide range of Ms. Klimitas' artwork as premiums at different levels of giving. The premiums are as follows:
- $35: At the $35 level, donors will receive Katherine's autobiography called "Looking Up."
- $50: At the $50.00 level, donors will receive a packet of six greeting cards featuring several of Katherine's watercolor paintings.
- $100: At the $100 level, donors will receive a packet of twelve greeting cards featuring several of Katherine's watercolor paintings.
- $250: Donors who contribute $250 will receive a matted, signed and numbered limited edition print of one of Katherine's watercolor paintings. This print will fit in a standard size 8"x10" frame.
- $1,000+: Donors who give $1000 or more will receive a personalized 5"x7" watercolor pet portrait by Katherine. They will be asked to provide photographs of their pet from which Katherine will work.
- Monthly Donors: Those who contribute monthly will receive a coffee mug specially designed by Katherine.
"We are very excited to have teamed up with such a talented artist as Katherine, who clearly shares the same love of animals that we do. We also feel that her artwork will be a great and added incentive to our donors who will no doubt love and admire her artwork as we do," says Jeff Dorson, HSL Director.