Please take a moment to read Dad’s perfect words as you prepare to gather as a family at Thanksgiving this year. We could never have known this would be our last time to share in Thanksgiving in his presence. But, the powerful gift of his writings and his words reminds us that he is still here.
This is his message, and now our message, of peace. ————————————————————————–
I feel the winds of winter as November drifts slowly towards December. Already, I have witnessed snow drifting across the western hills, landing gently along the meadow. The last rusty leaves of a few oaks on nearby hills hold tight to the glory days of autumn, now almost vanished. I watch the deer, harder to distinguish now as they blend into the dull background of winter’s approach. The winds shake the skeletons of summer in the meadow. The afternoon dwindles into the night earlier as each day passes. A day of Thanksgiving has arrived, and with it, we know that winter’s cold, her howling storms, her bitter cold, will return some day without notice.
Thanksgiving, a time to gather with family and friends, a day of thanks for the blessings of the natural world, and most importantly our families and others we love. This is a time to remember the warm rainy days of summer, the sunshine, the simple things that make our life and this time possible for so many. I think of the labor of those who work the land, those who make sure that pumpkin and apples, milk and cream, turkeys and ham, or whatever your choices may be, are here for us to enjoy.
It is time to pause, to rest, to breathe deeply the aroma of the kitchen. It is also time to reflect on those less fortunate, despite the reasons, and to share the blessings of this land as much as possible in a manner of our choosing.
I take not a single day for granted, not an hour to waste, always thankful for what surrounds me.
I give thanks for the honor to be called an American, thanks for the honor to have served in our military, and thanks to those who still do.
There are many things I still do not understand, like the desire to squeeze the last dollar from a shopper in the name of the holiday season. I do not understand why it is necessary to open stores before their workers have the opportunity to enjoy the second piece of pie with their families. What is the difference if we put off the sale of the season for another day? Have we forgotten so easily, in our hurry, the importance of time together, doing little once in a while, like time to sit and talk around that table so full? When one of the seats is empty, how we will long for one more chance to have just another minute together.
In days, November will slip again into December and winter. The first serious snow of the season can arrive at any time. It is time to reflect as we ponder the winter sky, the quiet cold that lays ahead, our journey, and how long shall it last? December and winter will arrive, filled with holiday spirit, clear cold nights when the air sparkles with starlight, reflecting off the crunching snow.
It is time to rest more, to read more, to reflect, and most of all, time to grow closer to those we love, time to cherish the moments we are granted. It is time to know and live the messages we send, the message of the seasons which we enter, the message of peace.
It is hard to believe that December 2016 marks the end of my fourth year of running a monthly 5K for our Foundation! What started back in January 2013 between me and my friends Amy, Kelley, and Christine as a one year commitment to run a monthly 5K in memory of Kass, has grown into a monthly celebration of life. Of hope. Of love. Four years and going strong.
I am grateful to the people who have joined me along the way, most notably Amy, Kelley, Christine, Leslie, Kelly, Nora, Tina, Pete, my brothers and my Dad and Mom, and all of the countless others who have supported this effort. I am grateful most especially to Jamie who has been my rock and my biggest fan each and every step of the way. Dropping me off at most of the starting lines, waiting for me at countless finish lines, and always encouraging me to keep going no matter what. He is a treasure to me! Plainly and simply.
I share below some observations about what the last four years have meant to me:
I have completed races in 18 communities including Hughesville, Muncy, Unityville, Loyalsock, Williamsport, Jersey Shore, DuBoistown, South Williamsport, Warrensville, Lewisburg, Bloomsburg, Wilkes Barre, Millville, Milton, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Allentown, and Washington, D.C.
I have completed 48 5Ks and 3 half marathons, and an 8K since January 2013, comprising about 190 miles. Taken separately, these miles are the equivalent of running 7.25 full marathons in four years!
I have run in support of many important community causes, including: Lewisburg Rotary, Flight 800, St. Columba School, East Lycoming YMCA, Run for Your Heart, K’s for Cancer, East Lycoming Foundation, Little League, Crosscutters, Williamsport Schools, May Day, Rider Park, Home to Haiti, Muncy Schools, Country Store Kicks Cancer, Sheetz Color Run for Kids, YWCA, Race Against Addiction, and many more. I have learned so much about all of the good causes happening in our community.
After four years of running, I still get choked up when I cross the finish line. I always finish the same. Looking up, throwing a kiss to the sky, then a fist in the air in victory.
I have never won a race. I have never come close to winning. Not even my age group. But, I have never cared about my time. The victory for me is in the experience of waking up on race day, feeling proud that I have found a way to keep going, wearing my Foundation shirt, going to the race, running with my heart wide open, and crossing the finish line in memory of those I love. Winning a medal could never replace that feeling.
People have asked me when I am going to stop. I cannot imagine a time when I will say “that’s enough.” Iplan to keep running until I am unable to run. It is then that I will walk. When I can no longer walk, I will figure out what is next. Until that day, I will run.
I have never used this initiative as a fundraiser, but some very generous folks have donated to me along the way. I am grateful for every dollar we raise. If you are interested in supporting my running, please consider a donation to our Foundation in any amount. Each donation is considered a blessing!
When I run, I remember all of the times I ran with Kass. I think about what she would say about this initiative. I hope she would be proud to know that I have kept going, just like she wanted me to do. I wonder what my Dad would think? After we lost Kass, he would encourage me to work through my grief by doing whatever was best for me. He always told me he was proud of me after every race I ran. My Mom continues this sentiment today. After every race, I receive a text from her that says: “I am so proud of you, Krista. I love you.”
I cannot explain why I keep running. I guess it is the one thing I can do to feel some sense of control after the terrible toll the loss of my Dad and sister has had on me…and continues to have on me. Many will never understand my journey, and that’s okay. I run to find peace in my heart. I run to honor the life, legacy, and love of two people I loved most in the world. I run to build hope for tomorrow. I run for life. I run for love. Most of all, I run for all of those who can no longer run. Because I can. I run for Kass and my Dad. Because I love them and I miss them every single day.
I made this 3-minute video to highlight some of my runs over the past four years. The video is set to the beautiful voice of Alicia Keys and the most amazing lyrics….Not Even The King….
This post was written to remember the 2nd anniversary of our Dad’s passing on September 8, 2014. This is just one of 1,000 stories left to write about a man who was unique, loving, wise, and a pure treasure. His laughter, his life, his love will never be forgotten.
September 2013. It is Sunday afternoon. I step from the sidewalk onto the floorboards of the old front porch. The movement of my feet causes those aging boards to creak. The sound alerts the dogs sitting just inside of the door. Jeb, my parent’s German Shepard, has been the old guard on duty here for almost a decade. He is the chosen one of sorts, the keeper of the gate and the protector of his precious family living inside. Buddy, the rescue dog, is standing by supporting Jeb with a complementary yet alternating bark, providing extra cover just as any good second-in-command should do. The barking is intimidating, and if I did not know any better, I would turn around and try again on another day.
But, I do know better. For this is my home. A place I left over 21 years ago in search of my own dreams. Straight out of college and into my first apartment that I shared with my little sister, Kass, who was still in college at the time. We only moved 30 minutes away, but for two kids new to living completely on their own, it felt like we had moved across the country. After that first move, chasing dreams took us both further down the road away from home and on to new jobs, new cities, and new experiences. My brothers stayed closer and settled into their own lives, filling up their days with activities and sports for their kids, work, and simply taking care of business. Two families with all of the trimmings.
But, no matter where our lives took us, we never forgot where we came from. Stillmeadow, the name given by my parents to their 16-acre domain, would always be our home. The safe haven. A soft place to land no matter what life was serving up at the time. And over the course of those years when the four of us were creating lives of our own, we gathered regularly in the kitchen at Stillmeadow for compelling conversation, great debates, outstanding food, laughter, and unconditional love.
Today, I know Mom and Dad are expecting us. Lately, this is a common occasion for most of our Sunday afternoons. The phone call would come in sometime before noon. “Kris, it’s Dad. I put a little something on the stove if you and Jamie want to come over for an early dinner today.” “Wow, Dad, yes. Of course. That sounds great.” I ask Jamie if he wants to go. There is never a doubt as to his answer. During the drive out to their house, his game is always the same as he tries to guess what will be on the menu on that particular day. My Dad is a phenomenal chef and he loves to create new dishes. One thing we learned over the years is that when Dad cooks it is always homemade, usually an amazing Italian creation he cooked up in his head, often incorporating items from his garden, and always delicious.
As the dogs continue to bark, we make our way to the front door. Somehow, the experience of my entry into the kitchen over all of these years never seems to change. It stays with me as a powerful memory of this place. It is pure perfection. Today is no exception. Dad is standing at the doorway, kitchen towel draped over this shoulder, spatula in his hand, his glass of wine close by. A huge smile comes over his face, he reaches for me to give me a hug and says, “Hello, my dear.”
Dad standing in the kitchen we still love with the old wood stove in the background. This photo was taken exactly six months before he left us for Heaven.
It is always the same. Same appearance. Same words. Same smile. Same hug. This greeting is not only offered when I see my Dad in person, but in almost every instance that I interact with him…on the phone, in his voice mail messages, in his email greeting, when I meet him for coffee or a drink, when he stops by my house to visit. It is always the same greeting filled with such warmth and love: “Hello, my dear.” I love being his daughter and his dear.
As I hug him tightly, I can smell his perfect scent through his work clothes. I smell the candles burning, I smell something delicious simmering on the stove, I hear the soft music playing in the family room, and feel a warmth in the air. I give him a kiss on the cheek and say, “Hi Dad.” Jamie follows me in and it is then that I see Mom coming into the kitchen. We all exchange greetings and I know that our afternoon is going to be filled with laughter, sharing old stories, and a few life lessons and casual advice for me. All of that and an exceptional meal.
It is moments like today that I will never forget.
September 2016. It is 8:00 a.m. on a clear Saturday morning. I step onto the front porch. The new floorboards do not creak like they used to. As I make my way to my car, my eyes are drawn skyward, as they usually are, and I catch a glimpse of the cloud formation overhead. White, puffy, cumulus clouds dominate my view.
It looks like it is going to be a beautiful day. The birds chirp happily in the trees and our farm kitty, Bella, makes a run for the barn. I cannot help but think that it has almost been two years since we lost Dad and a year since we purchased and moved to Stillmeadow to be with Mom. It is still hard to fathom that Dad passed just two years after we said goodbye to Kass. Life does not seem fair. Some days, in fact most days, I still have trouble wrapping my head around any of it. But, instead of trying to sort it all out today, I just keep moving. I keep moving forward one day at a time just as Kass and Dad would have wanted.
When I miss my Dad and the sound of his voice, I often picture his reunion with Kass in Heaven. His arms wide open, his huge smile dominating his expression, he looks at her and says simply, “Hello, my dear.”
It is the thought of this moment that brings me peace.
Post script: Sadly, we lost Buddy suddenly in April 2014. Dad and Mom then adopted Abbie and Jennie, two German Shepard/golden retriever sisters who still live at the farm along with their new brother, Kato.
We said goodbye to Jeb in January 2016. In early October 2014, Mom and I were reminiscing about Dad and re-playing family videos on the computer. When he heard Dad’s voice, Jeb whimpered softly for several minutes. I believe if dogs can cry that Jeb cried that day. He missed Dad. They were the best of friends. Forever faithful, Jeb was 11 years old.
Dad always loved his dogs so much. The puppies were only five months old when he passed away. They still miss him everyday. Just as we all do….
In March this year, we started an initiative through the Team Kass Foundation called Harnessing Hope Bags. The concept for this program came from my Mom and was raised for the first time during our Foundation Board meeting in February 2014. The concept was simple and came from such a beautiful place. As my Mom recalled sitting next to Kass through numerous chemotherapy treatments, she remembered the items Kass liked to have close by to help with the environment, including snacks, hand cream, mouthwash, wet wipes, etc., each intended to provide a little comfort through the uncomfortable parts of the cancer journey. We also recall writing down moments of laughter, conversations worth noting, information about medications, ideas for the future, etc., and my Mom always had a little notebook handy.
It is in this spirit that once a quarter, we collect all of these items and place them in a harnessing hope bag with great care. We include information about our Foundation and what inspired us to do this…our courageous sister Kass who never lost hope throughout her journey! The expectation is that people who are new to this cancer journey may feel a little better, a little lighter, if only for a moment, because Kass’s beautiful light shines briefly in their space. Since March, we have delivered 85 bags to the Susquehanna Health Cancer Center to be distributed to newly-diagnosed cancer patients.
Our Dad was an integral part of this initiative. He helped with defining the final contents of the bag, and of course, he was a strong proponent of including the journal. Since his passing just 2.5 months ago from cancer, our hearts continue to beat; yet they are broken, battered and bruised by yet another terrible loss for our family. This time, we lost our patriarch, our strength, and our beacon of light and laughter. Beyond all measure, this is the time for us to dig deep and to regain our footing as we continue walking on the path toward hope. If we lose our hope, then what? We will never give up. We will continue walking forward until no other family has to endure using the word “cancer” as a part of their daily conversation.
In our most recent delivery to SH Cancer Center this afternoon, we were able to include special recognition of our Dad and his values, and we hope that he would be proud to see how his lessons continue to carry on through his kids and grand kids and
the other lives he touched. He was a gift from God and we were so lucky to stand in the light of his love for so many happy years. Please take a moment to read about his treasured possession, the Dixon Ticonderoga Number 2 pencil, and how we incorporated them into this round of bags.
This initiative has grown, thanks to the generous donations we have received in support of this effort. To date, we have raised almost $5,200.00 specifically to support this initiative, including an anonymous donation in support of the cause! We are grateful for every gift! In September, we were blown away by very generous gift made in memory of a loved one lost to cancer earlier this year. The gift was made to support the Harnessing Hope Bag initiative. In recognition of this gift,
we have included Cyndi Baker’s name in loving memory on our gift bags this round. Thank you to Deb B. for your generosity of spirit and for loving your friend Cyndi. May her memory long endure!
To see how you can help with this initiative, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. To make a donation, please send your gift to Team Kass Foundation, PO Box 1862, Williamsport, PA 17703 and mention Harnessing Hope Bags in the memo!
It is hard to fathom that Dad will not be with us during the Raise the Region kick-off event this Wednesday. But, we know he would want us to keep going. He worked the room last year because he believed in our mission and in our purpose. We plan to carry forward in honor of his strength and Kass’s courage.
Giving, even just a little bit, makes your heart lighter. Please remember the Paternostro Family Foundation during this online fundraising event. We are forever grateful to all those who believe in our foundation, and in our desire to harness hope and live passionately.
If you are not familiar with Raise the Region, it is a unique, online giving event that provides a platform for the community to raise money for local non-profits within a 30-hour fundraising window. The event begins at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 11, 2015 and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, March 12, 2015.
What is most amazing about Raise the Region is the generosity shown by the event sponsors to provide matching funds which truly extend the impact of your donation! We are fortunate to live in a region focused on supporting the community in which we all live, and we are proud to do our small part for the greater good.
It is in that regard that we ask you to consider making your annual donation to the Paternostro Family Foundation as part of the Raise the Region event. Each donation is fully tax-deductible!
Your donation may help to underwrite part of a memorial scholarship for select graduates of Hughesville High School, provide a bag of hope to a newly-diagnosed cancer patient at Susquehanna Health Cancer Center, or help a person fighting cancer to make a monthly utility payment. Each dollar invested in our Foundation has meaning for someone, and we are so thankful for each and every donor.
Every dollar raised is so special to us. We know that there are many wonderful organizations to support this week. But, as a newer non-profit with the passionate determination of a seasoned institution,the Paternostro Family Foundation is eager to grow and to expand our programs and partnerships. Your financial support will be of tremendous value to us. The minimum gift is $25.00, and any donation amount is truly meaningful and appreciated.
Thank you in advance for your continued generosity and support.
The Team Kass Foundation Board of Directors is pleased to announce the details of our 2014 Kathleen Paternostro Morgan Memorial Scholarship.
This year, the Board voted to increase the award amount to $1,000.00 to be granted to one deserving graduate as selected by the Board following the nominations and review process.
“Investing in our students, and our community, and honoring Kass’s memory in this way brings our family great happiness, as we know how much Kathleen loved her school, her participation in sports, and her community,” remarked Krista Paternostro, chairman of the Team Kass Board. “We are grateful to the Hughesville community for its support of our inaugural Team Kass Foundation events, and look forward to continuing to build this scholarship program in future years. We were raised in a family environment that recognized and focused on hard work, a strong work ethic, and an understanding of the value of service to others. Kass certainly exemplified these qualities and this scholarship given in her memory helps us to recognize and support these same qualities in our next generation of leaders.”
Please see the details for this year’s scholarship below:
Scholarship Amount: $1,000.00
Frequency: Presented annually during graduation ceremonies at Hughesville High School.
Purpose: To provide an annual scholarship to a deserving Hughesville High School senior who demonstrates Kathleen’s esteemed qualities and work ethic, including dedication to academics, sports, and the community in which he/she lives.
Applicants must be a member of the graduating class.
Applicants must have participated in sports, with preference given to basketball and tennis, during their senior year.
Applicants must have been accepted to attend college upon graduation.
Applicants must complete the scholarship application and write a 500-word essay.
Scholarship applications are available through Mr. Bower’s office at Hughesville High School.
Applications must be submitted by 1 May 2014.
Applications may be submitted via email to email@example.com or via direct mail to: Team Kass Foundation, PO Box 1862, Williamsport, PA 17703.
Finalists will be determined by the Team Kass Foundation Board of Directors.
Two members of Kathleen’s family may elect to meet briefly with the finalists to determine the final scholarship recipient.
About Kathleen: Kathleen Paternostro Morgan was a 1990 graduate of Hughesville High School. A standout athlete, she played the number one singles position in girls tennis and was a starting member of the 1990 District IV championship girls’ basketball team. Kathleen was posthumously inducted into the Hughesville High School Athletic Hall of Fame in October 2013.
In addition to her love for sports, Kathleen had a creative spirit and was an accomplished artist. She graduated from the Pennsylvania College of Technology in 1992 with a degree in Food & Hospitality Management and worked within the hospitality industry for 20 years before her journey to Heaven in July 2012 at the young age of 40. She was the proud mother of Josephine, whom she loved with all of her heart.
(Editor’s Note: We had issues uploading pictures to this post. We linked a photo at the bottom of the page. We apologize for this inconvenience, as we had many wonderful pictures from the event to share!)
As the sun rose over the football stadium at the Hughesville High School in the early morning hours of October 19, we just knew that no matter what, it was going to be a great day! We had arrived before first light, after starting to plan this race only 8 weeks earlier. But, we were ready for whatever came our way that morning. Certain things, like the weather, were beyond our control. We stayed focus on the things we could control….our purpose, our mission, and our desire to create an atmosphere of hope and inspiration.
When all was said and done, the weather was gorgeous and over 125 participants (including our virtual runners) were with us on this beautiful day. In addition to the 85 or so people who participated in person, 40+ people joined us from all over the country as virtual runners. States represented in the virtual portion of our race included: Arkansas, Arizona, California, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Washington. That was very cool and very inspiring! We offer very special thanks to all of our virtual runners!
We surpassed our fundraising goal, and through the generosity of our corporate sponsors and race participants, we raised over $6K for the Foundation! We are grateful beyond measure!
We are happy to share the list of our inaugural Harnessing Hope 5K winners and their winning times:
Overall Male: Joshua Gavitt, 17:48
Overall Female: Amy McCoy, 20:19
Over 40 (Male): Mike Rieder, 20:15
Over 40 (Female): Tara Holdren, 26:21
Under 13 (Male): Tonny Temple, 19:55
Under 13 (Female): Valerie Ammar-Khodja, 28:05**
**There was a mix-up in this category on race day. We were sorry not to be able to recognize the amazing performance of Miss Valerie on Saturday in front of the other race participants. We are happy to report that she will receive her prize and medal this week. Congratulations Valerie!
Congratulations to all of our winners! Thank you for running in our inaugural race! You are all an inspiration! Keep going! Keep inspiring! Next year, we plan to have more age categories providing for more chances to recognize the awesome performances we saw on Saturday.
We also offer our special thanks to all of our race sponsors, including our HOPE Corporate Sponsors: Elite Feet, Inc., Frozen Run Bottling Company, Inc., and Susquehanna Valley Sportswear. We are grateful to all of the many companies and individuals who provided extra monetary support to our event. Please click this link for a listing of all of our generous race sponsors: https://teamkass.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/5k-sponsor-thank-you1.jpg
Away from the race clock, many other amazing stories surfaced on our tribute wall and in our conversations with the race participants. The truth is that we all have a story. We all have a journey ahead…we all have a past that has shaped who we are today….we all walk into each day with no guarantees about what the future has in store, but with an appreciation of the gift of having another chance to love. The most rewarding aspect of the day for me was hearing the stories of hope and love and the motivation to just keep going.
I share below just a few of the touching stories we heard and saw on Saturday ….
Holly ran for her sister Rachel who lost her battle with cancer last December!
Kidney cancer survivor, Amber, ran in honor of her own courageous fight!
Carla ran after losing her husband unexpectedly in a car accident just four months ago!
Beth and Laurie ran in loving memory of their Dad!
My niece Katie ran her first 5K in loving memory of her Aunt Kass!
After not being able to walk on her own just a few months ago, Bonnie was there determined to finish the 3.1 mile course as she continues to battle cancer!
Beth was there to run in loving memory of her husband Dave!
Mindy ran in loving memory of her brother Sean and her dear friend Kass!
Judy participated in her first 5K in loving memory of her Ma!
Michelle was there to run in loving memory of her friend James, who lost his battle with cancer in May!
Kelly was walking in memory of Kass and her father-in-law, both of whom lost their battles with cancer!
Many of Kass’s teammates and friends were there to show their support for Kass!
Several participants were running their first 5K that day, and picked our race to do it!
And, there were countless other stories making their way through the crowd that day….
These are the stories that made this event a success! Kass taught us that no matter what our circumstances, we should never lose hope. Hope that things will get better. Hope that there is a reason for every single thing that happens to us, and that someday we will understand and find peace. Hope that love is eternal. Hope that no matter what, everything will be okay.
We are already gearing up for next year’s race! Please plan to join us on Saturday, October 18, 2014 at the same time and location! Please invite your friends and colleagues to join us, too! We know there are so many inspiring stories out there. We want to capture them all and wrap ourselves up in the anticipation of and hope for a brighter tomorrow. Thank you, and God bless!
It was as if the sun was shining through the pouring rain. Oh, what a night! Our family was honored to participate in the 2013 Hughesville High School Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies performed at half-time during the Spartan Football game on October 4, 2013. Kathleen was inducted for her amazing athletic accomplishments on the basketball and tennis courts! My brothers and I proudly accepted the award on the field on behalf of our baby sister.
Below are my remarks from the private induction ceremony held prior to the game.
“I was honored to be asked by our father to accept this award on behalf of Kathleen. I am also honored to be able to try to represent our dear sister in this moment. Oh, how proud she would be right now. She was a phenomenal athlete, and we thank the committee for recognizing her athletic achievements in this way. We also extend our congratulations to the other recipients who will be honored tonight.
I would like to take a moment to recognize my two remarkable older brothers, Tom and Tim, who are joined by their wives and my cute-as-ever nieces and nephews. And, of course, Jamie. Finally, I would like to recognize our awesome parents. No strangers to this district, that is for sure. But, what you may not know is how truly blessed we have been to have these two amazing people steering our family’s ship for all of these years. Sometimes, I wonder what the past few years would have been without their strength, faith, and love. For that, we will always be grateful, just as I know Kass was….
Our parents never missed one of our athletic events. Between the four of us, that was a lot of seasons! But, they were always there to catch our eye in the stands…
I also know that Kass would agree that it was our wonderful parents who provided her with a foundation of strength, courage, kindness, gratitude, integrity…..and all of the representations of goodness that an individual could hope to possess. Kass possessed them all, and she showed us time and time again over the course of her life….her tenacity, her grace, and her strength.
I am happy to say that these same traits were reinforced during Kass’s days at this school, most especially through her participation in sports.
I know this is true because of what we witnessed as Kass fought her battle with cancer.
Kass was diagnosed on July 1, 2011 and left us for Heaven on July 2, 2012. Over that year, a year of magical love, our sister fought a very private and a very personal battle against a powerful foe.
She loved to receive cards and letters from her friends and former teammates, and to read the posts on FB filled with inspiration! There were so many special moments of encouragement and inspiration along the way. But, during that year fought, she was only able to visit with four people in person outside of her own family. Those four people are all here tonight. Her sweet friend and tennis teammate Mindy Thomas Flick, and her two coaches: Beth Myers and Paula Fantaskey Farr, and Paula’s husband, Steve. We thank them all for being a beautiful sparkle of lightduring a very dark and challenging time.
But, Kass wanted to see her coaches. She wanted to hear their inspiring words. She wanted to remember the teamwork, the trying and falling, getting up, and trying again. She wanted to draw on their strength just like she drew from their strength on the basketball and tennis courts all of those years ago. She wanted to reconnect with a time when she was a warrior….filled with power, determination, grit, and victory. She wanted to feel as though if she won those battles on the courts, she could win the battle that was ahead. This is what participation in sports at Hughesville gave to our sister. And, what her coaches gave her…….well, they may never truly understand the gift of inspiration and hope that they gave. But, we know, and we thank you.
Just before Kass was diagnosed, we took her baby girl Josephine, who was only 3 at the time, to play some tennis right here on the Hughesville courts. What a great day! Twenty years after she played on that number one court, there we were again. She felt confidence there. I could see it on her face. She was ready for whatever the future had in store. We could never have guessed in that moment where life would take us. Unfortunately, as we learned, we are not in control. The only best hope we have is to carry on with her life as our guidepost….to carry her legacy forward….to provide hope for others. If the meaning of a person’s life could be measured by the number of ripples formed as they cast their stone into a silent lake, then our baby sister Kass lived a beautiful and purposeful life.
This week has been filled with so many emotions! I am sharing this personal look inside the happiest day of Kass’s cancer journey. All of these videos and photographs were taken on September 13, 2011, exactly 2 years ago today, marking Kass’s last day of radiation treatment. Although it is still hard for us to watch because we cannot see through our tears, I am sharing it for a few reasons.
First, to remember Kass’s courage, hope and determination.
We were all so happy that day. We thought we had turned a corner. We knew the fight had only just begun, but things were looking up. The first phase was over, and Kass did great! She looks happy, beautiful, and although she lost a lot of weight, she was fierce that day. She wanted to wear her LIVESTRONG shirt because it provided such inspiration to her. And, wear it she did. Proudly. When her treatment was over, she wanted to go to the Liberty Bell and then to the Rocky steps. She ran those steps and she cried. And, I cried. At the bottom of the steps before she ran, she mentioned our friend Casey. Casey had promised to run those steps with her when she was healed. Sadly, we never made it back there and to this day, I am not sure if I could ever go back there again.
Secondly, I share this with you to personalize the cancer journey.
For one full year, standing proudly next to Kass as she fought, our family lived every emotion of the human experience almost every single day. From the tears, sadness, frustration, and anger, to the daily smiles, love, happiness, stillness, laughter, joy, courage, faith, and hope (we can never forget the hope); cancer brings them all to the surface and forces you to stand in the truth and live. Right then…..Right there….Always looking forward…..Wrapping yourself in the love of family and friends, your faith in God and the doctors and nurses who will care for you, and in the HOPE that lives inside of you, where the reserves have been building over a lifetime of viewing the world through optimistic and loving eyes. What other choice does one truly have? Kass used to say, “Cancer has made my lens so crystal clear. I see things with an unbelievable clarity that I never had before.”
For anyone reading this who has been through cancer, either themselves or as a caregiver, you 100% absolutely understand this sentiment. For those who have not, please count your blessings! I beg you to count your blessings right now. Today. Cancer is a beast and a powerful one at that. Even with my parents’ reminders over the years for us to stand straight out of bed each morning and then fall to our knees to thank God for our lives, our health, and our family, I never really understood what those words meant until it was too late. Although I hope I never did, life is so easy to take for granted.
I share this story and this video with you because our family is no different from millions of other families out there right now, today, who are living this same journey. I share Kass’s example to let you know that even when the worst possible outcome comes to pass, there is still hope! Hope that someday, we will find a cure for this terrible disease. Hope that no other babies will have to lose their Mommies at 4 years old. Hope that we will never forget the lessons we learned as we witnessed the fight. Hope that our lives here on Earth have meaning and that our legacy will carry forward and inspire & help others. Hope that those of us who are left behind will live better lives, lives with more clarity, and lives steeped in a pursuit of giving, loving, and helping others.
That is what Kass would have wanted. To inspire or support or somehow help just one person who is standing where she stood and facing what she faced. And now, Kass is with God in Heaven living her eternal life, a life where there is no more pain, only peace and love. And so must we carry on, too. We live and we laugh and we love, but we never forget. Our work with our foundation is how we will carry Kass’s legacy forward. And just like the finest symphony, the Team Kass Foundation is the instrument, and Kass, our graceful and beautiful conductor!
INDIVIDUAL REGISTRATIONS (Early Bird Registration Ends 5:00 p.m. on October 17):
Individual Runner/Walker: $25.00 – early bird*, $30.00 on-site
*An additional $1.60 processing fee will be added for on-line registrations.
Perseverance Support – $30.00
Hope Support – $20.00
Courage Support – $10.00
**As a virtual registrant, you are unable to attend the event in person but would like to make a donation to Team Kass to show your support of Kass, the Foundation, and this race. This fee does not include any race amenities, but your generosity and team spirit is appreciated!
RACE REGISTRATION INCLUDES:
Race bib & timing chip
Team Kass race shirt (*Guranteed for the first 150 registrants, please register early!)
Prizes awarded to the top finishers (see prizes, below)
PRIZES: Prizes will be awarded in the following categories:
Top Male Finisher
Top Female Finisher
Top Finisher 13 & Under – Male/Female
Top Finisher 14 – 25 – Male/Female
Top Finisher 26 – 40 – Male / Female
Top Finisher Over 40 – Male/Female
Why We Run:
Proceeds from this race will benefit the Team Kass Foundation and will be used to fulfill our mission of providing scholarships to student athletes at Hughesville High School who exemplify Kathleen’s values and work ethic, to provide support to mothers facing a cancer diagnosis who have young children, and to keep the memory and spirit of Kathleen alive for her daughter, friends, and family.
On July 2, 2012, our lives changed forever when we said goodbye to our beloved daughter, sister, mother, and friend, Kathleen, at the young age of 40. Kass was a genuine, kind, thoughtful, loving and compassionate young woman who was just reaching her stride when cancer struck. The mother of a baby girl, Josephine, who was only 3 at the time of Kass’s diagnosis, Kass was determined to live. She fought a courageous and graceful battle against a very powerful foe. Her family wrapped their loving arms tightly around her throughout this year of magical love, but in the end, we had no choice but to hold her as she left us for Heaven on that very sad day.
Life as we know it will never be the same. Now, we are determined to keep Kass’s legacy of giving and kindness alive as we embark on this new endeavor. We presented our first memorial scholarships in Kathleen’s name in May 2013. Our hope is to continue to grow this effort and to eventually be able to offer financial and other support to other mothers of young children who are fighting their own cancer battle. We ask for your financial support so that we can make our work sustainable and meaningful.
Kathleen’s light still shines on the world. She is forever in our hearts. We love you, sweet Kass! “Everything will be okay……”
Race Day Experiences:
“Everything Will Be Okay” Tribute Wall
Sadly, we understand that so many people in our community have been touched by cancer in some way. It is in this spirit that we will offer our runners/walkers a chance to give a shout out to all of those fighters, survivors, caregivers, or loved ones in Heaven that we will run for on race day! They are our inspiration to keep going. Please take a moment to stop by to offer your words and inspiration.
Throughout her cancer journey, Kass always reminded us that no matter what, “everything will be okay”. She was always upbeat and positive! Even as she faced her final days, she would say, “I’m still fighting.” She was a woman of immense strength and grace. This tribute wall will be dedicated in her memory.
Participate and win! We will be selling 50/50 chances on race day at 3 for $5.00 or 10 for $10.00. Drawing will be held during the awards ceremony. You must be present to win.
Pose for a picture and smile! A photographer will be on hand to capture the moments and memories of race day. Groups can pose for photos before the race at the tribute wall or simply enjoy the memories of crossing the finish line. Photos will be posted on the Team Kass Foundation website following the race.
Support / FAQ:
How far is a 5K?
What is the race course?
Please click here for a copy for the race course: tkracecourse
Will there be restrooms available?
Yes, restrooms will be available in the school for before and after the race.
Can I use my iPod?
To ensure a safe race, iPods and other listening device are not allowed on the race course.
Can I use a jogging stroller?
Yes, jogging strollers are allowed on the race course, but we ask that you start in the back of the race pack to ensure you do not impede other runners.
Is there parking available race day?
Yes, there is plenty of parking available at the Hughesville High School.
Do you need race day volunteers?
Absolutely! If you are not a runner but are interested in offering your support of this run, please email Krista Paternostro at firstname.lastname@example.org. We need help during registration, at the water station, at the finish line, at the tribute wall, etc.
Why do you use the hummingbird in your logo?
The hummingbird, a symbol of peace, love, and happiness, was Kass’s favorite bird!
Families Helping Families in the Fight Against Cancer