Letter to the Editor: Thank you to our community

On November 30th, 2015, we lost our daughter Kate after tragic complications following a bone marrow transplant. Kate was an incredible child. She was beautiful, loving, happy and absolutely endearing to anyone she met.

Kate had a rare form of mitochondrial disease called SIFD (sideroblastic anemia, immune deficiency, fever, and developmental delay), and in an effort to minimize the impact of her disease, her amazing big brother Jack donated his bone marrow to her.

Over the course of Kate’s life, we have faced many challenges as a family. In facing those challenges, we are grateful to our incredible McKellar Park and Highland Park community of friends, neighbours, and supporters.

Throughout Kate’s life, many of you were there with a helping hand, and an open heart. You made sure she was safe when she was out in the community, and you helped Julie and Brian with a second set of eyes or helping hand at school yards, pools and parks.

Through the support of organizations like Dovercourt (John Rapp), Ottawa Gymnastics Centre (Lori Ierello), Westboro Nursery School (Wendy and Lavonne), MotherCraft, the JCC and many others, Kate was able to participate in many community activities.

She was a student at Broadview Public School, and she couldn’t have been prouder. She was a fierce supporter of the Ottawa West Golden Knights hockey team that her big brother played for. Kate loved her local stores and businesses; Bridgehead (Golden Avenue) for a croissant, Starbucks (Richmond Rd.) for a sandwich and water with ‘Kate’ on it, Pharmasave (Richmond Rd.) for her bag of chips and a visit with the team there (while picking up her medications). She loved Farm Boy (Richmond Rd.) and Produce Depot (Carling Avenue), and the staff at both stores still ask about Kate and share memories of the little girl who loved getting groceries and ‘helping’.

Kate and our family were supported by the ‘Hope For Kate’ fundraiser in 2009, and many of you have been part of Team MitoCanada and have run and walked at Ottawa Race Weekend in support of mitochondrial disease awareness and research.

The last year of Kate’s life was especially difficult as we went through her bone marrow transplant procedure in Montreal in full isolation. Julie and Kate were separated from Brian (dad) and Jack, and when Kate suffered serious complications she remained in Montreal for many more months.

Our community came together to send care packages, crafts, puzzles, books, and activities to Kate. When financial pressures began to get difficult, you supported a GoFundMe for our family. When we finally arrived home with a very unwell little girl, but with incredible hope for her recovery, you fed us and brought us meals.

Last December, the incredible outpouring of love and support at Kate’s Celebration of Life saw more than 650 people in attendance, and love letters of hearts in memory of Kate. Our community came together again to make it a very special memorial, with friends and neighbours lending their talents to ensure it was simply perfect (Tara Studios, Marnie Johnstone, Amanda Sage).

This past month we woke to an incredible gift of a basket of hearts on our doorstep the morning of her birthday, October 11th. Beautiful words of remembrance and celebrating what a gift Kate was to all of you.

We are incredibly grateful. This is a letter of thanks, but also one to celebrate the wonderful community Kate lived in and was a part of.

We want to especially thank Stephanie Craze for the ‘quarterback’ role she played in keeping the support for our family organized. Sheila Hodges for organizing the GoFundMe, and Sunita Kingwell whose friendship and trips to Montreal were invaluable to us.

We are an amazing community, and though Kate is gone, I know you all love and miss her incredibly. Thank you for that.

Julie Drury,
Kate’s mom

File photo of Julie Drury by Ellen Bond

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