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Help us bring Cassy Doolittle home

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My name is Desiree Bates. I work at UW-Madison with Pam Doolittle. I have known Pam for over a decade and consider her a friend and mentor. Pam, and her husband Dan, learned Christmas evening that their daughter, Cassy Doolittle, sent out a distress call while rock climbing in Argentina. Two days later, they received the devastating news that their daughter had perished. During this difficult time, I seek your help in supporting the Doolittle family by helping them to bring Cassy home.

Cassy was a graduate student at the University of Las Vegas, working on a PhD in the field of neuroscience. Over the holiday break, Cassy set out on an expedition to go mountain climbing in Argentina. She was an experienced climber and had a thirst for adventure. After experiencing travel difficulties, Pam and Dan offered her a plane ticket home to safety. Cassy was as stubborn as she was fearless. Determined to finish what she started, she continued her journey. At about 10:00 pm on Christmas Day, Cassy hit trouble due to freezing rain and high winds. She perished. Her body could not be recovered due to unforgiving terrain and too few rescue volunteers. Her parents have hired a team to recover her remains and transport her to a funeral home. The Doolittle Family will honor their promise to Cassy by getting her that plane ticket home.

Cassy was loved by her family, friends, and community. Here are some tributes in her honor.

Nichole, Cassy's sister:
"My sister was the strongest person I’ve ever known. She laughed with her whole heart, loved so fiercely, and lived every moment with all she had to give. Cassy passed away in a rock climbing accident, doing the thing she loved more than anything in this entire world. She was an artist and a fighter. I love you Cas. If you’re somewhere out there in the blue, I hope you never stop climbing to the sky.”

Amanda, Cassy's sister-in-law:
Selfishly, I feel kind of slighted. I valued our relationship so much, but knew it was only the beginning. We didn’t grow up together. I didn’t get to have you as a sister all my life, but you became one so quickly. It was like a switch. You went from being a stranger to a sister almost instantly. I felt incredibly connected to you, protective of you, and honestly a little envious of you and that fire of yours.

You were so much like me in so many ways, and in the ways you were not… now, those were the most magical pieces of yourself. You were fearless, and confident, and had this incredible way of making other people feel like they weren’t living enough. Hard enough. Free enough. Fulfilled enough. It may not sound like it, but it was a superpower. Pure magic.

We had several conversations in the last couple of years, that even if we were lucky enough to have you with us longer, they would’ve always stayed with me in some way. You just lit me up. It was so clear that you were living an aspirational state of cognitive consonance. You radiated joy and purpose, and made me crave things I didn’t even know I wanted.

I can only just echo what the countless people who love you have said, but I don’t think those who didn’t get to know you will truly ever get it. I have never met another person like you, and I can honestly say that I don’t think I ever will.

I think everyone right is questioning if they could have done more to change this outcome, but I think anyone who truly knew Cassy knows that she was almost as stubborn as she was brave. She would get such a tunnel vision around her goals. She knew what she wanted, and once it was in her head nothing could stop her. It was infuriating. And, that was her.

‘Till next time, sister.

She was a hockey player. Her mom writes:
A tribute I would like to share from the Sauk Prairie Youth Hockey Association. Would it surprise anyone that Cassy insisted on playing on the boys' team as long as she was allowed? She was "The Great Wall of China", and was a force the forwards contended with as they made attempts on goal. We were and are proud parents. Thank you for all the love and support, dear friends.

Photo from SPYHA.

Sauk Prairie Music Association:
It is with great sadness that we share the loss of 2015 Sauk Prairie graduate Cassy Doolittle. Cassy was kindness in human form.
You may remember her as the first soloist in our Aida show, or as the sassiest Babette in Beauty and the Beast. She was the student that stood up to bullies and welcomed everyone into the group. She was the person that younger students would seek out for advice or support. She was musically gifted, and had a style unlike anyone we have ever worked with. She was a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a light.

Photo from SPMA.

Cece and Cassy’s climbing friends in Joshua Tree National Park, California:
Cassy meant so much to our community. I can’t stress that enough to her family and friends who didn’t get to see this part of her life. Cassy was smart and strong, emotionally intuitive and always willing to talk about anything and everything. She was the friend you could lean on, or reach out to when you needed support. For those who don’t really know or understand that part of Cassy’s life I will try to explain in a few words below:

We are a group of people who live and breath rock climbing, Cassy fit right in on day one. We travel the United States and beyond following weather patterns, good temperatures and amazing rock. There is a group of about 50 of us in total, but we travel with between 10-25 people at any given time between climbing destinations. Some of Cassy’s favorites were Index, Washington (where she climbed for the first time with her brother, Kevin), Joshua Tree National Park, California, Yosemite National Park, California, Devils Lake, Wisconsin, Indian Creek, Utah, and Red Rocks, Nevada. As you can see Cassy traveled far and wide with her friends and partners.

She was a master of charcuterie boards and taught me about the secret of dipping pickles in honey, I didn’t even like pickles until she showed me that. Cassy was the most STOKED person I have ever met in my entire life. She had this insane fire and passion for pushing herself. She was not afraid and she taught us not to be afraid either. This fall in Yosemite Valley National Park Cassy started projecting an epic climb called “Astroman.” On day one she took a factor 2 fall on the second pitch anchor. On day two she didn’t make it much further on the route. On day three she went up there with a fresh partner and again didn’t make it much farther. I should mention that these three days were back to back… After day three, she decided she needed to rest, we went down to the river and stretched and ate meat and cheese and Its-It (the best ice cream treat in Yosemite). She went through the route and gear in her mind and with other friend’s who had climbed the route. She wasn’t going to back down, that wasn’t like Cassy. A day or two later she went up there with yet another fresh partner and climbed it in spectacular fashion. While she didn’t finish, or send, the route that day she did make incredible progress and it only fueled her fire for her next go at it. Unfortunately Cassy won’t get another go at Astroman or any of the other hundreds of climbs she had on her “tick list.” Thats where we come in. We loved Cassy and Cassy loved us. There is absolutely no one else like her on this earth and we are working together to finish her tick list of climbs.

I can only speak from her community of folks on the road, but I know that she had many little pockets of climbing communities who she loved dearly and who love her.

I want to thank the group of people who are working to get Cassy’s body back home safely. I know it is a difficult task and I appreciate your work, expertise and willingness to help us get our girl back.

We’ve been thinking and talking about how if Cassy were to go to “heaven” after her death, she would have just woken back up where she was and kept on climbing. You will be missed Cassy, but never forgotten.

thank you again and always sending love to your family and friends,

Love, Cece and Cassy’s climbing friends in Joshua Tree National Park, California.

Photos by Charlie Stoker.

Please help this shining star, Cassy Doolittle, find her way to her family. Any donation will help. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Desiree Bates.


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    • $100 
    • 1 yr
  • Holly Beach
    • $25 
    • 1 yr
  • David Dinkel
    • $40 
    • 1 yr
  • Erin Ogden
    • $100 
    • 1 yr
  • Emily Grant
    • $50 
    • 1 yr

Fundraising team (7)

Desiree Bates
Madison, WI
Pamela Doolittle
cecelia charrette
Team member
Daniel Doolittle
Team member
Nichole Doolittle
Team member
Amanda McGillicuddy
Team member

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