Annual Update 2012

March 2012

 Dear Catie Team Member,

Catie and Mia at Graceland

      Another year has come and gone.  There are many days when the busyness and business of life and living make the photos on our walls seem more like wallpaper than the cherished memories that they are.  As April 23rd approaches, we wanted to reach out to you and thank you for your continued prayerful support of Catie and her Wish.  Catie’s birthday this year will be her 11th and the fourth birthday of Catie’s that we will celebrate without her.

    However, we will celebrate.  We will celebrate Catie, we will celebrate her wish to eradicate pediatric cancer through prayer and research, and we will celebrate all those who join us to make Catie’s Wish a reality.  We will remember Catie’s kids, those she met during treatment and who celebrate being four years cancer-free, those children and families who even now are battling the disease that claimed Catie.  We will remember those who choose to fight this battle daily in their role as medical professionals and researchers, and we will remember you.  For it is you who allow us to continue to fight, continue to strive to make a difference, and continue on even as we do so without our daughter.  You provide us with the prayers, gifts, and support that allow us to celebrate and remember; to look forward, and to hope.

      You are receiving this letter because you have embraced Catie in a special way.  Did you have the opportunity to meet Catie?  Did you like me fall in love with that wonderful smile and vow to do all that you could to keep it alive for all time?  Perhaps you know Catie only through her website, the stories of her life, and the pictures that chronicle her short existence here and her lasting impact.  Perhaps you know Catie because like me, you pray to her to help the children that still have a chance or for those to come that they may never know a battle with pediatric cancer.  However you know Catie, she knows you.  She is on your side as you go through your day.

      This past year has been an eventful one as we continue to honor Catie’s legacy wish.  It was important to Catie that we help those who helped her; that we remember her by remembering those who did so much to try to cure her.  We honored that wish with your help by not only continuing to “Pay for a Day” at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, but by sending “Birthday” cards on Catie’s birthday to hundreds of doctors, nurses,researchers and staff members at St. Jude.  These cards were our way of personally thanking the people who devote themselves every day to the battle against pediatric cancer.  Many of the cards went to people who personally cared for Catie and now care for hundreds and thousands of others who are treated at St. Jude or receive the benefit of St. Jude’s research at hospitals across the country.  Celebrating April 23rd and marking Catie’s birthday by thanking these individuals is a highlight of each year.  In addition to these cards, each patient under care at St. Jude on April 23rd received a card as well, letting them know of the love, care, support, and prayers from people they do not know.  The cards were colored by hundreds of schoolchildren from schools across Pennsylvania and each one was special and unique.  We will continue this tradition this year as well.  Remembering the joy that showed on Catie’s face as she opened cards during her time at St. Jude, many of them from people receiving this letter, compels us to pass that joy along to Catie’s kids. 

Catie with Jesus

   Last year, we added a new feature to the website and formalized the prayer component of the mission that Catie left us.  By simply logging onto your prayers that were offered for an end to pediatric cancer are added to the count.  In this way, people from around the world were able to join together in prayer.  Over 360 thousand prayers were offered in the six weeks leading up to Catie’s birthday.  The webpage is open again this year, and will remain open until April 23rd by which time we hope to have logged over 1 million prayers.  If you cannot log your prayers onto the site, simply let us know how many prayers you offered by replying to this email and we will update the count from here.  Thank you for your prayers, they really do make all the difference in the world.

     I had the honor of coaching our school’s fourth and fifth grade girls’ basketball team this season.  Christine signed me up without my knowledge, and I am glad she did.  I had thought that the highlight of my time as coach was watching the players and the wonderful progress that they made and in particular watching Mia, our nine year old as she played organized basketball for the first time.  The girls learned so much and my pride as a dad was only eclipsed by my pride as a coach as our team took fourth place in the division exceeding all expectations.  On the night before our final game of the season, as I was kissing Molly, our seven year old goodnight, she asked me if Catie was still alive if this would be her team as well as Mia’s.  Until that moment, throughout a three month season filled with games and practices, I had not thought of that fact.  This team was Catie’s team, filled with her classmates, her sister, and her spirit.  While still alive, Catie was the best athlete in our family, and if things had been different and cancer had not taken her away, I am sure she would have been on our team, and would have made me proud as well.  I hope and pray that we made her proud in that final game and that we continue to receive her blessings as we continue the work we do in her name.

     One of the really exciting parts of honoring Catie through her foundation is to witness the efforts of so many as they come up with creative and sacrificial ways to support us.  Here are just a few examples from the past year that really touched our hearts.  One of Catie’s classmates and a treasured friend spent last summer walking dogs and taking on odd jobs.  She did it not for a video game, not for money to go out to the movies, but as an honor to Catie.  She explained it as her little way to help.  Others in Catie’s class held lemonade sales or accepted donations in lieu of birthday gifts, sacrificing their time and their presents for a cause they believe in and for a girl they know and honor.  One boy in South Carolina who had never met Catie, but who heard her story not only offered his birthday money to Catie’s Wish, but rallied the parents of his friends to the cause. 

     Seven women from Mechanicsburg really stepped up and formed a team to run in the St. Jude Half Marathon in Memphis, TN.  In a beautiful tribute to Catie, mothers of Catie’s first grade classmates and Brownies and others they invited incurred the expense of traveling to Memphis,

The Memphis 7 at Graceland

(not to mention the actual running), and honored our daughter in this special way.  They were able to go to some of Catie’s favorite places in Memphis and two of them even toured some of the hospital and walked in the footsteps that Catie left for them.  What a beautiful tribute, we are eternally grateful. 

      These are just a sampling of the wonderful efforts of so many from throughout the country and around the world.  Some of these people knew Catie, some were her classmates, others know only her story.  What they have in common is a desire and a willingness to share in Catie’s legacy and offer what they can.

      In many ways, they are very much like you.  They have responded, as you have.  You and they have decided to support Catie and her wish, and we are touched and grateful for that choice.  We ask you again this year to make that choice.  Please prayerfully consider a donation to Catie’s Wish so that we can continue the work that Catie left us.  We thank you in advance for your prayers and your prayerful support.  Please know that you are in our prayers as well.

 God is good, all the time,

 Christine and Kevin O’Brien

Comments are closed.