On Sunday we climbed… I had a team that was over 150 strong, and I’m so proud of them… More than 25 of them, in the stairwells, are from Iowa, or at one time were from Iowa – they knew and loved Kari… And they had friends at the top waiting for them too…
My team wore purple & gold. I wore the shirt that Kari’s volleyball teammates wore – the shirt that Kari’s mom sent me… My docs made me step it down a notch and climb slowly because of the 10” gash in my belly from my Christmas adventure eight weeks earlier. Do you have any idea what it feels like to step out of the stairwells after climbing 94 floors to a whole mess of cheering people and a sea of purple?!?!
This year, Kari’s family was here – her sister and cousin were in the stairwells with me… Her mom and Godmother were at the top, waiting for us… More than anything, I wish I could give Kari back to them – but I cannot… I think about her throughout the day, every day – but that doesn’t hold a candle to them thinking about her. One thing I can do, is to keep her alive in the hearts and minds of the people who loved her, and even some people who never knew her – and her mom and sister saw dozens of people come out to honor her with me, and keep Kari’s spirit, her smile and her memory alive.
Here is a little news clip from WCIU TV… WCIU reporter Aly Bockler and some of her coworkers joined my team, and here is a nice little story she published the morning after the climb:
We were climbing to honor another beautiful, young girl too – Chloe Coleman… Chloe’s heart beats in my friend Melissa’s chest. Laura and I got an email from another friend and neighbor, MJ – she was supposed to climb with me, but gave up her spot to a friend and volunteered for my team instead… In her email, she told me a little story worth sharing:
Yesterday was an amazing experience for me. Simply amazing. Picture this. I see these people standing around with Kari’s Klimbers shirts on and have no idea who they are. Didn’t recognize them from the previous years. I had totally forgotten about Steve telling me about the heart transplant recipient being with her donor’s family again, and her donor’s mom climbing with her for the first time this weekend.
Well, here comes this beautiful, energetic, effervescent young gal emerging from the crowd with an unbelievable glow on her face and a shine in her eyes. She was radiant. She had a stethoscope around her neck, so I assumed she was a healthcare professional who was greeting her supporters. Someone that you had probably met in your journey through the healthcare system. After she hugged these three people, she took the stethoscope and put it in the ears of this one woman and held the other end to her heart. OMG, OMG, OMG. I realized what I was witnessing. This was the gal who had the heart transplant with the mother, father and aunt of the donor, who were listening to their loved one’s heart in this gal’s body.
I have to tell you that it completely blew me away. Completely. The joy in the eyes of the Mom was something I’ve never seen before. I thought of my own Mother and how she would have felt if she had had the opportunity to hear my brother’s heart beat again after he passed.
Thank you so very much for affording me this opportunity to witness this experience. Truly amazing. I immediately texted my nieces and one nephew who all know you two. They were blown away as well. I told my sister-in-law, Peggy, (the mother of the triplets who was with me through my surgery) that seeing this event between these people affected me as much, if not more, than the birth of her kids. I will never forget it.
Later, I got an email from Kari’s beautiful friend, who is now my beautiful friend, Katie… It was from one of Katie’s friends to whom she had forwarded my fundraising letter. The response instructed Katie to tell me that my email and my website had pushed her and her husband to go online and register as organ donors… Seeing what Kari did for me helped two people register as organ donors...
This is what it’s all about…