Katie's Gift to the World

$16,050 of $20k goal

Raised by 215 people in 14 months
Adam Pocius  DENVER, CO
On July 11th 2015, Katie married the love of her life, Ryan. Together they embarked on their first journey together as a married couple doing what they both loved best, hiking in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. They had a wonderful week enjoying each others company in the great outdoors. On the last day of their honeymoon they hiked their way to the top of Mt. Yale to enjoy the beautiful scenery around them. On their trek back down the mountain a storm quickly moved overhead. Nearly at treeline, the couple was struck by lightning. Sadly Katie passed away, and her husband was critically injured. Ryan is now recovering, but is heartbroken that his "Katie bear" is gone. Katie had the inscription "Bears for Life" written on the inside of his wedding band because they always called each other by their playful nickname of "bear".

Katie was a unique spirit that left this world too soon. She had a devoted passion for nature, education, the elderly, and animals. She was a dedicated special education preschool teacher and had recently earned her master's degree in early childhood development.

In memory of Katie, her husband Ryan, her family, and her friends would like to honor her passions for nature, educating children with special needs, the elderly, and animals. We are fundraising money to distribute to charities in her name, and to honor her life.

We would like to setup a memorial site at the Botanical Gardens in Denver, Colorado, the site of her recent marriage.

Photos: https://goo.gl/photos/8PVXRc5uun95Ur4s5
(Wedding photos courtesy of www.cleephotography.com)

----------------------------------------------------------------------

UPDATE: Ryan has been released from the hospital and is recovering with family and friends.

We have identified where funds raised from this campaign will be going as we move forward. The following links provide more information about charities, services, and organizations dear to Katie's heart.

American Association for the Care of Children
http://aaccchildren.org/

STARS Early Learning Center (Katie's place of work) to help provide the opportunity for field trips
http://stars.adams14.org/

The Humane Society (Colorado)
http://www.humanesociety.org/about/state/colorado/

The Denver Botanical Gardens (We are hoping to dedicate a tribute/memorial site here in the future)
http://www.botanicgardens.org/get-involved/donate/tribute-memorial-gifts
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Update 4
11 months ago

Hello everyone,

The dedication of Katie’s memorial at the Denver Botanic Gardens was held on September 26th.

Thank you to all who were present for the placing of Katie’s memorial plaque in the Woodland Mosaic area of the gardens. Family, friends, and others, who were touched by Katie’s life, and death came together on a beautiful fall day to support one another and to enjoy touring the gardens in one place of “nature” that Katie loved.

The money so generously donated by all of you was distributed to the Botanic Gardens, Adams 14 STARS Early Learning Center (the preschool where Katie taught), the Humane Society of the United States (Colorado Chapter), and the American Association for the Care of Children. Thank you to the representatives who were present to receive the funds that will help support the Botanic gardens, provide field trips for students, support and care for animals of all types, and for the assistance it will provide for children in foreign countries. We will be closing the fundraiser in Katie's memory at the end of the month and distribute any remaining donations to the above charities.

All of us have experienced loss and death in our lives, and the grieving is usually quiet and personal. Because of the nature of Katie’s death, the grieving has been more public. I am grateful for the outpouring of all your support in its many forms. Our loved ones will always be with us in our memories, and in a quiet place in our hearts that is personal for each one of us.

Thank you again for all that you all have done to remember Katie, and for the care and concern you have shown for those who love her, and grieve her loss. Your many expressions of support will always be remembered!

Sincerely,
Ryan
Ryan leading Katie's memorial service
Speaking about Katie's life
Katie's memorial plaque
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Update 3
12 months ago

1
1
Hi everyone,

Our sincere appreciation and gratitude for your generous contributions to Katie’s memorial fund!

A simple dedication ceremony of her memorial site at the Denver Botanic Gardens will be held on Saturday September 26th at 11am. At that time, representatives from Adams 14 STAR school, The Humane Society of the United states, and the American Association for the Care of Children will also be on hand to receive checks from the monies donated on Katie’s behalf.

The site of the dedication will be at the Woodland Mosaic area of the gardens.

Again, our heartfelt thanks for your support and encouragement during this difficult time, and your generosity on behalf of the organizations that are special to Katie and I.

Ryan
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Update 2
13 months ago

Hi Everyone!

Thank you so much for your ongoing and generous contributions to Katie's memorial fund.

We are overwhelmed and forever grateful for the many acts of kindness that have come our way from family, friends, acquaintances and those whose lives were touched by Katie's life and death.

The outpouring of support, well wishes, remembrances and your own personal stories of living through loss and tragedy have truly helped us move forward.

Plans are being made for the placement of a memorial plaque at the Denver Botanic Gardens, and funds collected on this site will be distributed to charities in Katie's name. This includes the majority going to the school where Katie taught special education at the preschool level, the humane society, the Nicaraguan children she helped to save, and the Denver Botanic Gardens where she and I were recently married and loved to visit!

Dedication of the memorial, and the allocation of gifts is tentatively planned for the end of September, 2015 near the site of our recent marriage. We will keep you posted regarding the specific date and time of the dedication.

A heartfelt thank you to all who have visited this site to offer your support and encouragement.

In divine love and friendship,
Ryan
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Update 1
14 months ago

4
4
Thank you all for continuing to donate to Katie's charity fund. We are so blessed to have your warmth, support and love. We held a memorial service for Katie today at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Denver, Colorado. They opened their arms to us in love and support and were truly amazing. They asked for nothing and gave us all that they had and more. Their timing, their show of what really matters in a time of crisis and their love has re-invigorated me in a way I had not thought possible.

Katie's service was truly befitting of someone with such a big heart and continued her fairy tale. The church was unrealistically beautiful - like something between a Chalet in the Swiss Alps and an elegant Spanish Villa. Her childhood pastor was there to share with us stories from over 26 years of Katie's life. Her brother gave an amazing eulogy that conveyed stories of her strength, her beauty of heart, her intelligence and her unyielding free spirit and humor as a child. I was honored and blessed to talk about my wife and share a message of hope for her family, her friends and the children she taught.

I know that many of you could not make the service or did not even know Katie. I am posting a copy of my eulogy on this site and will try and get one on her FaceBook page too so that you can share in the moment. I ask that you pray for Kate, but I know that she would ask that you pray for each other, watch over each other and be thankful for the people you have in your lives and the time you get to share with them. Most of all, cherish the memories, don't worry about the bad, just work through it and overcome it.

Please feel the warmth and love for Katie that I do, in sharing in her eulogy. I will get Nathan's (her brother) eulogy posted here and Facebook soon too.

Ryan’s eulogy to Katie
https://goo.gl/KBxJFh

Katie’s memorial card
https://goo.gl/KXQwlM
St Thomas Episcopal Church in Denver, CO
St Thomas Episcopal Church in Denver, CO
St Thomas Episcopal Church in Denver, CO
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Read a Previous Update
Help spread the word!
 1.0K total shares
Kristi Zalesky
14 months ago
4
4

I just finished reading an article about one of the recent deaths from lightning strikes when it dawned on me. The bride who was struck by lightning while hiking a 14er on her honeymoon was the same couple we saw on their wedding day at the botanical gardens. She wore a really fun short dress with heels and had a parasol to shade her fair red head skin from the blistering sun. I observed them quietly as their photographer wrapped up the few remaining photos for the afternoon. Then she and her groom sat on a bench in the shade staring at each other with love struck eyes. I was going to tell them congratulations if they looked up as we walked by but they only saw each other in that moment. My heart goes out to this couple though I do not know them. I only saw a brief moment of their life and the happiness they shared on their wedding day. Ryan, I am so sorry for the loss of your lovely bride.

+ Read More
Melinda Mindi Pacheco
14 months ago
2
2

"Miss Katie" as I knew her was one of the most amazing women I have ever met. She spent hours helping my son be the best he can be, she is the reason he is ready to start school this August, and my heart breaks to know that other children will not be touched by her unending love and compassion! From my baby (Jeffrey) and I, thank you so much Miss Katie, for everything you have done for my family.

+ Read More
Adren Warling
14 months ago
1
1

Hello. I knew Katie, and although we only met a handful of times I loved her. She was a light and an amazing person to spend time with. To Jack and Pat, her parents, I love you guys more than I can express in words. You've always been a part of my life and are my family. I offer my sincerest condolences and my heaviest heart. To Ryan, I did not know you, but I'm glad you came into her life. In the pictures I see I can tell how much love you had for each other, and it lightens my heart a little bit to know that such love exists in the world. I love you all. And I'm very, very sorry, and utterly devastated at this loss.

+ Read More
Caryl Hale
14 months ago
1
1

Ryan and family, I do not have any eloquent words to share as this is such a tragedy. We had planned a trip to hike Yale, the guys (Aaron, Charlie, and Nate) were hiking the day you and Katie hiked. The girls were going to hike Yale the following day. The guys saw you two flirting and having fun at the summit and then came upon the most heartbreaking tragedy not long after. You two are forever in our hearts. I am so glad to see this tribute and memorial. For all the friends and family, even complete strangers from Kansas are touched by Katie and Ryan.

+ Read More
Tim Thompson
14 months ago

Ryan: First, I am very sorry for the love of your life, Kathleen......and, I can (unfortunately) honestly say that I understand. More than most anyone you'll ever meet. You see, my own wife of 1 1/2 yrs, Meredith, was also struck and killed by a lightning strike just outside our home 14 yrs ago: http://www.chron.com/news/article/Lightning-kills-woman-working-outside-in-yard-2038826.php I am going to try to contact you somehow, someway to offer personal condolences and to listen and, hopefully, bear some of your pain. (If anyone reading this knows how I can reach him, please call/text/email me). You can call me day or night to talk, Ryan. Praying for you and the family, Tim Thompson 713-305-9150 timcthompsonjr@gmail.com

+ Read More
Mary Shanahan Fagnano
14 months ago

I just read the beautiful eulogy Ryan wrote for Katie. The faith in his message is much like what has sustained us after our 20 year-old son, Nick, was killed by lightning at Venice Beach one year ago yesterday. My prayers go out to all who loved Katie. It seems as though these incredibly special people are put on this earth for a brief time to guide the rest of us to carry joy, giving and, most of all love, more consciously into the world. I can say, after a year, Nick's spirit has continued to be present to all who loved him, and even to strangers, in countless ways. The story of the caterpillar, I believe, is no coincidence. It was a sign, the essence of Katie, to sustain you and to forever let you know her spirit is near. Butterflies will continually affirm her presence along with frequent little miracles that you'll know can only be Katie's doing.

+ Read More
Elizabeth Gates Erickson
14 months ago

Kathleen...easy to smile, happy, beautiful, classy, classmate, hardworking, delighted to have her next to me at graduation, good-bye precious lady, my heart aches.

+ Read More
Catherine MK
14 months ago

I am so very sorry for your loss. She has beauty inside and out. As far as the comment from Cullen Bohannon he is an idiot and I will be blogging how inappropriate he is later. I wish you all light is this horrible tragedy

+ Read More
Brianne Patterson
14 months ago

Thoughts and prayers go out to Katie, Ryan, and their entire family. She seemed like such a bright light. I have shared your GoFundMe campaign with my Light Up Yellow campaign on Facebook at http://facebook.com/LightUpYellowCampaign We have over 190K "likes" on Facebook so I hope that others will help spread the word on the positive thing you are trying to do in Katie's memory. ♥

+ Read More
Virginia Romero Trujillo
14 months ago

Ryan, I am so sorry for your loss. Katie was a beautiful person inside and out. Always willing to lend a helping hand. I will miss working with her at Stars. I only met her two years ago but anytime I needed support or answers; she was always a willing person to go to. She loved teaching the children and the children loved her; often wanting to hold her hand. She will be missed by many.

+ Read More
Brian D. Bostron
14 months ago

So very sorry for your loss.

+ Read More
Hilary Sheehan Munoz
14 months ago

I just read about this tragedy in the Denver Post this morning. May God bless Ryan and may Katie always watch over him. My mom taught Ryan and his brother in school. We send our love and prayers!

+ Read More

$16,050 of $20k goal

Raised by 215 people in 14 months
Created July 19, 2015
LY
$50
L Y
11 months ago

Wishing you comfort as you push forward.

$30
Anonymous
11 months ago
JA
$20
Jerry Armstrong
12 months ago
LW
$50
Logan Wolfrum
12 months ago
DB
$100
Dorothy & Lynn Bartlett
12 months ago

Katie will be missed for the big heart that embraced so many of us. Grandma Bartlett and Aunt Lynn

JB
$250
John and Joanne Bailey
12 months ago

There are no words. We will always have the memories.

TB
$500
thomas bravard
12 months ago
EM
$100
Ed and Christie Miedema
12 months ago
RW
$250
Ross Wilson
12 months ago
DB
$100
Duranne Fabrese Busch
12 months ago
Kristi Zalesky
14 months ago
4
4

I just finished reading an article about one of the recent deaths from lightning strikes when it dawned on me. The bride who was struck by lightning while hiking a 14er on her honeymoon was the same couple we saw on their wedding day at the botanical gardens. She wore a really fun short dress with heels and had a parasol to shade her fair red head skin from the blistering sun. I observed them quietly as their photographer wrapped up the few remaining photos for the afternoon. Then she and her groom sat on a bench in the shade staring at each other with love struck eyes. I was going to tell them congratulations if they looked up as we walked by but they only saw each other in that moment. My heart goes out to this couple though I do not know them. I only saw a brief moment of their life and the happiness they shared on their wedding day. Ryan, I am so sorry for the loss of your lovely bride.

+ Read More
Melinda Mindi Pacheco
14 months ago
2
2

"Miss Katie" as I knew her was one of the most amazing women I have ever met. She spent hours helping my son be the best he can be, she is the reason he is ready to start school this August, and my heart breaks to know that other children will not be touched by her unending love and compassion! From my baby (Jeffrey) and I, thank you so much Miss Katie, for everything you have done for my family.

+ Read More
Adren Warling
14 months ago
1
1

Hello. I knew Katie, and although we only met a handful of times I loved her. She was a light and an amazing person to spend time with. To Jack and Pat, her parents, I love you guys more than I can express in words. You've always been a part of my life and are my family. I offer my sincerest condolences and my heaviest heart. To Ryan, I did not know you, but I'm glad you came into her life. In the pictures I see I can tell how much love you had for each other, and it lightens my heart a little bit to know that such love exists in the world. I love you all. And I'm very, very sorry, and utterly devastated at this loss.

+ Read More
Caryl Hale
14 months ago
1
1

Ryan and family, I do not have any eloquent words to share as this is such a tragedy. We had planned a trip to hike Yale, the guys (Aaron, Charlie, and Nate) were hiking the day you and Katie hiked. The girls were going to hike Yale the following day. The guys saw you two flirting and having fun at the summit and then came upon the most heartbreaking tragedy not long after. You two are forever in our hearts. I am so glad to see this tribute and memorial. For all the friends and family, even complete strangers from Kansas are touched by Katie and Ryan.

+ Read More
Tim Thompson
14 months ago

Ryan: First, I am very sorry for the love of your life, Kathleen......and, I can (unfortunately) honestly say that I understand. More than most anyone you'll ever meet. You see, my own wife of 1 1/2 yrs, Meredith, was also struck and killed by a lightning strike just outside our home 14 yrs ago: http://www.chron.com/news/article/Lightning-kills-woman-working-outside-in-yard-2038826.php I am going to try to contact you somehow, someway to offer personal condolences and to listen and, hopefully, bear some of your pain. (If anyone reading this knows how I can reach him, please call/text/email me). You can call me day or night to talk, Ryan. Praying for you and the family, Tim Thompson 713-305-9150 timcthompsonjr@gmail.com

+ Read More
Mary Shanahan Fagnano
14 months ago

I just read the beautiful eulogy Ryan wrote for Katie. The faith in his message is much like what has sustained us after our 20 year-old son, Nick, was killed by lightning at Venice Beach one year ago yesterday. My prayers go out to all who loved Katie. It seems as though these incredibly special people are put on this earth for a brief time to guide the rest of us to carry joy, giving and, most of all love, more consciously into the world. I can say, after a year, Nick's spirit has continued to be present to all who loved him, and even to strangers, in countless ways. The story of the caterpillar, I believe, is no coincidence. It was a sign, the essence of Katie, to sustain you and to forever let you know her spirit is near. Butterflies will continually affirm her presence along with frequent little miracles that you'll know can only be Katie's doing.

+ Read More
Elizabeth Gates Erickson
14 months ago

Kathleen...easy to smile, happy, beautiful, classy, classmate, hardworking, delighted to have her next to me at graduation, good-bye precious lady, my heart aches.

+ Read More
Catherine MK
14 months ago

I am so very sorry for your loss. She has beauty inside and out. As far as the comment from Cullen Bohannon he is an idiot and I will be blogging how inappropriate he is later. I wish you all light is this horrible tragedy

+ Read More
Brianne Patterson
14 months ago

Thoughts and prayers go out to Katie, Ryan, and their entire family. She seemed like such a bright light. I have shared your GoFundMe campaign with my Light Up Yellow campaign on Facebook at http://facebook.com/LightUpYellowCampaign We have over 190K "likes" on Facebook so I hope that others will help spread the word on the positive thing you are trying to do in Katie's memory. ♥

+ Read More
Virginia Romero Trujillo
14 months ago

Ryan, I am so sorry for your loss. Katie was a beautiful person inside and out. Always willing to lend a helping hand. I will miss working with her at Stars. I only met her two years ago but anytime I needed support or answers; she was always a willing person to go to. She loved teaching the children and the children loved her; often wanting to hold her hand. She will be missed by many.

+ Read More
Brian D. Bostron
14 months ago

So very sorry for your loss.

+ Read More
Hilary Sheehan Munoz
14 months ago

I just read about this tragedy in the Denver Post this morning. May God bless Ryan and may Katie always watch over him. My mom taught Ryan and his brother in school. We send our love and prayers!

+ Read More
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