All posts by Paternostro Family Foundation

2014 Kathleen Paternostro Morgan Memorial Scholarship to be Awarded in June

Kass's power serve, 1990.
Kass’s power serve, 1990.

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.

Criteria: 

  • 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.

Process:

  • 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 teamkassfoundation@comcast.net 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.

To learn more about Kathleen, please visit our website at http://teamkass.com.   

Making Peace with All that is in My Heart

It is early Monday morning. I mean the before-the-dawn kind of early.  I step outside into the cold and within the icy chill of the morning, my surroundings seem calm.  Calm.  Serene.  Peaceful. There is hardly a noise except for the crunch of the snow underneath of my calculated steps as I carefully make my way to my car in my heels, my suitcase lagging behind.  I have been here before. I remember the sound of the snow.  I remember the moonlight.  I remember seeing my breath in the air.  I remember the stillness. I remember this same scene, sans the heels, only two short years ago.  I wish I could go back, back to a time when life seemed within some semblance of my own control.  Back to when Kass was still alive.

Happy times, 2010 at Josie's 2nd birthday party.
Happy times, 2010 at Josie’s 2nd birthday party.

I have not written a lot over the past few months.  In many ways, it continues to be a daunting time for us all.  We are still wrapped up in sorting through the memories…the photographs, the cards, the letters, the paintings, the clothing, and all of the reminders of another time and place.  I am convinced that the second year of grief is heavier than the first.  The shock wears off a bit, but as it departs, reality is patiently waiting.  Nights are filled with sleepless interludes of reliving that last day, the last week, the last birthday, the last Christmas, and sadly….the last words, the last smile, the last touch, the last moment.  People say that time heals all wounds.  I am certain that for me; I will never completely heal from the loss of my little sister.  And, I am not sure I would ever want to.  Part of Kass will live in me forever, way down deep inside my heart.

Yet, while all of this is happening around you, life keeps moving forward.  There are bills to pay, there is work to do, there are papers to write, there are trips to plan, there are friends to see, and there are walks to take.  Life does not give time off for those who are grieving.  And, that has been the hardest part of the journey for me.  I find myself living in the present with one foot planted firmly in the past.  Wondering how we got to be in this place, at this time.  Thinking about how it all happened so fast.  The day the phone call came from my Dad and then almost exactly one year later gently rubbing my sister’s feet on that sad, sad day as she left us for Heaven.  What sense did it all make?  Why our family?  Why Kass?  Why cancer?  Why any of it?

I remember this moment in the wee hours of the morning; on my way to link up with Mom and Kass to begin one of our numerous journeys to Philadelphia or Bethesda.  On every one of those mornings, which was sometimes the middle of the night, we never lost hope that something good would come.  We were going to beat this cancer foe.  We were going to win the fight.  And, as the months passed, and the news never seemed to get better, we had to narrow the focus and view hope from a more simple space.

We had to believe that if the worst outcome were to happen, that somehow, just somehow….everything would be okay.  Not because we accepted what was happening to our family, but because we had no other choice.  We had to believe this because it was the constant sentiment from Kass throughout her fight.  She said it frequently, but most vividly I remember her saying it after yet another meeting with the team of doctors who held her in their care.  “The drug is not working as we had hoped.”  “The cancer has spread.”  “We were hopeful to see better results.” “There is one more option we may want to try.”  These were the moments that the conversations were occurring when I would have to leave the room.  I was not strong enough to accept what was happening.  I did not have the courage to endure the commentary.  I guess I was somehow thinking that if I did not hear the words, then none of it was true.  Yet, it was all true.  Every word of it.  And Kass, whenever the news would come from her doctors, would simply look at our Mom and me and say, “It’s okay. Everything will be okay.” It was almost as if she knew and had somehow had found the strength to make peace with the road ahead.

Kass was most proud of being Josie's Momma, 2010.
Kass was most proud of being Josie’s Momma.

My most vivid memory of this occurred in Chicago, only two weeks before Kass left us for Heaven.  It is not a time that I have had the strength to write about until now.  We had driven two days to Chicago’s Cancer Treatment Centers of America.  It was our last shot.  Kass wanted to make the trip.  She did not want to give up. “For Josie,” she would say.  “I want to keep fighting for Josie.”  “Maybe they can help me?” she said with tears in her eyes.  So, we journeyed there for a consult and once again, the news was bad.  There was little, if anything, they could do.  I will never forget the moment as long as I live.  The doctor came in and sat on a stool directly across from Kass and looked her in the eyes.  I was seated to Kass’s right.  As the doctor spoke it was as if time stood still.  The cancer had spread, this time to her brain, and was extensive throughout her abdomen and on her liver.  I stood up and said, “No, please God, no.” And, I started pacing the room.  Then I felt her hand on my arm.  I turned and Kass was holding a tissue out for me.  No tears.  No sadness.  Just strength.  “It’s okay. It’s okay. I knew it was going to be bad news. But, everything will be okay. I promise.”  I reached down and hugged her and kissed her and took her tissue.  I sat back down and held her hand.  I will never forget the doctor’s words.  She said “that is amazing, I wonder who is comforting whom here today.” And, that was our strong and brave sister. In the end, it was she who comforted us.  We left that consult and I pushed her in her wheelchair to the chapel.  We prayed.  She wanted to call our Mom and Dad and our brothers.  She wanted to call home to speak to Josephine.  Not to tell her, but just to hear her voice.  She wanted to go home.

And then two weeks later, on that beautiful, sunshine-filled Monday in July, we were there surrounding her with our love as she left this world for a better place in Heaven.  And, then it was over.  There was no going back.  There were no more chances.  There were no more words.  No do-overs.  The end of a beautiful life.  The finality of death is powerful and painful.  All of the sudden, the world seems softer and quieter, and more confusing.  That was 17 months ago and to this day, still none of it makes any sense to me.

But, on this morning, I am headed in a different direction.  I am driving to another week of work.  Driving gives me plenty of time to think. I think about my own life.  I think about my family.  I think about Kass.  I think about Josephine.  I think about Jamie and our future.  I think about what I want my legacy to be in this world.  I think about gratitude and goodness and kindness and love.  I think about all that has happened in our family over the past 2.5 years and I think about the lessons I have learned and how they have changed me for the better.

Sunrise along the Susquehanna River, December 16, 2013.
Sunrise along the Susquehanna River, 12/16/13.

One of the things that I notice on my long drive to work is the sunrise.  I look forward to it.  I anticipate it.  I always know by the time I make it to a certain spot along the river, it will have raised enough to shine brightly across the water.  I am not sure if I just notice the sunrise and sunset more readily these days, but I am drawn to look towards the sky more frequently.  I look there for connection with Kass.  I talk to her in the stars, I look for her in the snowflakes, I see her in the morning light, and I remember her in the moon’s reflection of the sun’s light.

I accept that I must continue to live my life to the fullest as a tribute to Kass, and all of those we have lost.  To shine a light on her life and to turn her courage, the courage that I witnessed time and time again, into my inspiration to not be afraid to live.  Today.  Here.  Now.  I know and accept that one day I, too, will be called to Heaven.  On that day, whenever it may be, I will have to reconcile my life and how I used my time here to create goodness and kindness and love.  I work each day to make peace with all that is still left in my heart after losing Kass.  It has not been easy.  Anyone who has lost someone they love understands this sentiment.  But, I know that it is the only way I will truly be free.

But for today, I am going to focus on what is right in front of me: another blessed Christmas celebration with family and friends.  There is an empty seat at the table again this year, but Kass is always in our hearts.  I know she is with us.  During 2014, I hope to turn a corner in my life.  I want to use the lessons that Kass taught me in her life to do something truly meaningful for others.  We will continue the work of the Team Kass Foundation; and we hope to develop some new initiatives that present real opportunities for us to make an impact on people’s lives.  There is always more work to be done.

In the meantime, I have learned that love is the only gift that truly lasts for eternity.  So this year, all of my gifts will be wrapped up in the little moments and in the love that we all deserve and treasure.  Because no matter what life brings we know that everything will be okay.

Merry Christmas, and God Bless!

All that remains...
All that remains…

Runners from Near and Far Gather to Harness Hope during Team Kass’s Inaugural 5K Run/Walk

(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.

All participants may access the full race results by clicking here.

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!

Please click this link to view a photo montage from the day!  http://teamkass.com/?attachment_id=1059

HHS Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony – October 4, 2013

PlaqueIt 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.

Kass's brothers and sister: (l to r) Tom, Krista, and Tim accept the plaque during the half-time ceremony.
Kass’s brothers and sister: (l to r) Tom, Krista, and Tim accept the plaque during the half-time ceremony.

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.

Kass, #34, was captain of her championship basketball and tennis teams during her senior year.
Kass, #34, was captain of her championship basketball and tennis teams during her senior year.

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 light during 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.

Kass's power serve, 1990.
Kass’s power serve, 1990.

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. 

Thank you and God bless.”

The Happiest Day – September 13, 2011

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!

God bless.

kassie (2)

2nd Annual Harnessing Hope 5K Run/Walk

TKhummingbirdRace Details:

WHAT:  2nd Annual Harnessing Hope 5K Run/Walk

PRESENTED BY:  Team Kass, The Kathleen Paternostro Morgan Foundation

WHEN:  Saturday, October 18, 2014

WHERE:  Hughesville High School

TIMES: 7:30 a.m. – Registration Opens

8:50 a.m. – Opening Remarks/Sponsor Recognition

9:00 a.m. – Race Begins!

10:15 a.m. – Awards Ceremony

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Registration for the 2014 Race will open soon!  

2014 Race Sponsorship Opportunities – coming soon!

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Registration Fees & Prizes:

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.

Virtual Runners**:

  • 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 IMG_1103have 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.

50/50 Drawing

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.

Event Photography

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?

3.1 miles.

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 kpaternostro116@comcast.net.  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!

“……And God Bless Those with This Disease”

At the end of each Inside the Actors Studio interview with James Lipton, he always asks the same 10 questions of the actor he is interviewing.  As I listened to this process just the other day, I was intrigued by the final question, which I obviously had never paid attention to before.  He said:  “What would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?”

The answer on that particular day was the same as I imagine he hears a lot, something to the effect of “You did a first-rate job!”  But, for me the words that came to mind were instantaneous and powerful: “Kass is here and she has been waiting for you.”  Just that thought on that random day, in that unexpected moment, brought tears of overwhelming sadness to my eyes.

This type of emotion has been a daily occurrence since Kass passed away.  I still find it difficult to watch commercials about cancer on television or to hear about yet another person who has been diagnosed with cancer.  I guess it is because I understand what that pronouncement means to families.  I understand the unimaginable emotions.  I understand the fight. And, I understand the consequences.

It has been exactly 365 days since I lovingly and humbly witnessed my beautiful sister Kass leave this world for Heaven.  Exactly one year since her sweet voice has spoken to me about her hopes and dreams for little Josie.  Exactly 12 months since we somehow survived the most difficult day of our lives.

But, over the past 12 months there have been many unexpected moments, too, moments that have taken my breath away.  I have shared some of these moments in other writings over the past year.  But, one that happened just last month is still fresh and needs to be shared.

I was visiting with my parents a few weeks ago when my Dad asked me to go upstairs to Kass’s old room with him.  He said he had found some more of her personal notes, cards, etc.  He showed me one of Kass’s unfinished paintings that he had found.  We talked for a moment about what a talented artist she was.  Then, he handed me her old order pad that she had used while she was working at Penn College at the Le Jeune Chef Restaurant.  The pad was filled with cards that apeared to be from her 28th birthday, which she celebrated in May of 2000.  As expected, there was a card from each of us there that she had saved:  one from Mom & Dad, one from me, one from Tim’s family, and one from Tom’s family.  They were all there.  There were also a few other random notes.  And, as I was flipping through, I saw it.  Written on St. Patrick’s Day in 2000 on the backside of one of the restaurant order cards:

kass2000

It reads:  “I watched a lady with cancer try to eat breakfast today.  God help her and God bless those with this disease.”  The tears welled up immediately.  I looked at my Dad and said, “Did you see this?” gesturing the card.  “What is it?” he asked.  I showed him and he read it and shook his head.  “Amazing.”  We both stood there in disbelief.  He said, “Your mother and I looked through this before you came over, and we never saw it.”  We went downstairs and showed my Mom.  “How could I have missed that?” she said.

I still have not quite figured out why things happen the way they do.  And, what the message is truly supposed to be….

Until cancer hit our family, we never really understood it and I do not recall talking about it a lot growing up.  Obviously, I do not recall Kass mentioning this particular moment from so many years ago.  But, the fact that we found this note so many years later and the sadly prophetic nature of the message haunts me.

Yet, I do find peace in witnessing this amazingly beautiful and loving side of my sister in full display.  I have written many stories over the past year about our life together…stories of love, sisters, siblings, family, children, memories, strength, grace, courage, kindness.  And, here is the living proof of the contents of her heart….more importantly, her heart when no one was looking.

Think about it: most people in the same situation might have just kept going on with their day on that morning, perhaps too wrapped up in what was happening in their own life to truly notice someone else.  And even if they did notice, it is likely that most people would not have taken the time to actually write down what they were thinking in that situation.  But, not Kass.  Kass was a genuinely compassionate, kind, loving, sweet, and amazingly grounded person.  We all need more of Kass’s sentiment and more people like her in this world!

So where does that leave us today?  Well, life will never be the same without my beautiful sister.  Even in the happiest of moments, there is still sadness.  Sadness for the moments not yet lived.  Sadness and longing for what was.  Sadness for what could have been.  I still find that at least once a day, I am overcome with this amazingly powerful feeling a grief when I am reminded at the core of my being that Kass is really gone.  It is sometimes too much to accept.  I know that I am not the only one.  I would never speak for anyone else in my family, but I know that they all suffer their own grief.  I know that they all hurt.  I know that they all long for just one more moment when we are all together:  Group photo!  Group hug!  Or a “hang out by the fire” session.  I miss those days.  I miss my sweet sister.

But, I have come to accept and to know for sure that she is still right here with us.  I feel her presence with me all of the time.  [For those who have lost someone special, I know that you understand these words.  For those who have not, you may be thinking exactly what I would have thought before we lost Kass:  “You feel her presence…..what does that really mean?”  I understand this completely and know that someday you will understand.]  I see her in the stars and in the moon, I sense her in the birds and the butterflies that now share my spaces, and I feel her in my heart every day.

And, sometimes her presence is much more visible.  I had an experience like this recently.  A few weeks ago, we had our first Team Kass Memorial Blood Drive for Kass.  My Mom organized everything and I am so glad that she did.  The day was filled with love and happy stories about Kass.  And on that day, I gave blood for the very first time.  It’s true.  I had never given blood before then.  It really was an easy process.  But, as they wrapped the gauze around my arm when it was all over, I was overcome with emotion.  I could not help but recall the hundreds of times I had witnessed the nurses doing the same exact thing to Kass.  Covering her PICC line.  Covering her bandage.  The same red gauze and the same white tape.

The next day, I took everything off of my arm, showered, and continued with my day.  I was at lunch with Jamie when I looked down at my arm.  I could not believe what the remnants of the tape had left behind.  A simple heart.  Silently telling me and our family, “Thank you.  I am here.  I love you so much.”

Heart

I read this quote just the other day and I could not believe how true it is:

“When you lose a parent, you lose a part of your past.

When you lose a child, you lose part of your future. 

When you lose a sibling….you lose both.”

There are no words to truly capture how it feels to lose a sibling that you cherished and adored. As this quote implies, it is almost like losing a piece of you.  I had always thought that Kass and I would grow old together, sharing stories, laughter, and love.  I could never have known that life would turn out this way.  The future will always be a little bit heavier without her by my side.  And, our past can now only be told through the stories behind the pictures we all cherish.  But, despite all of this….hope remains.  Hope that the beautiful moments will outshine the sad; hope that with time our hearts will heal from this sadness; and hope in the knowledge that the love we share will never die.