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Mary Kaye Huntsman

January 9, 2012 by staff 

Mary Kaye HuntsmanMary Kaye Huntsman, Mary Kaye Huntsman is an activist and the wife of Jon Huntsman, Jr.. She launched and developed Bag of Hope and Power in You, programs that help children and teenagers deal with the emotional side of adversity with peer-to-peer and grownup support.

Mrs. Huntsman has been described as having significant political gifts and a major asset to her husband’s political endeavors by Time Magazine. From 2003 to 2007 she was First Lady of Utah.

She was born Mary Kaye Cooper to an Episcopalian family living in Orlando, Florida. When she was 15, in ninth grade, her family made the move from the South to Salt Lake City, Utah in the West. She went to Highland High School in Salt Lake City where she met Jon Huntsman, Jr. They were both active in student government. They started dating when they worked together at a Salt Lake City Marie Callender Pie Shop.

While enrolled at the University of Utah, Huntsman worked as a dental assistant. She then transferred to Arizona State University where she majored in family and consumer studies. Raised Episcopalian, she is a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In 1997, Huntsman and her daughter Liddy who at 8 was diagnosed with type 1 Diabetes initiated the Bag of Hope program in Salt Lake City to help children and their families cope with juvenile diabetes. The therapeutic concept is for families who have experienced dealing with the disease to help newly diagnosed children and their families, and in helping to be themselves strengthened emotionally. Thus, at the time of diagnosis of a child of type 1 diabetes, a child and parent who have experience with type 1 diabetes visit. The child is then presented with a bag of healthy goodies, a stuffed animal and helpful info. This is the beginning of a caring support system. Today Bag of Hope is a national program headed by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

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