This is a 2 part story which reflects the life and faith of one young women, and her profound impact on many people who were blessed to know her. The story is still being written but I thought you might like to know about it.
Our church in Augusta has had powerful youth ministries for a number of years. I'm continually amazed by the vitality and maturity of the teenagers who are such a vital part of Trinity on the Hill UMC.
Just a few years ago Katie York was one such teen. In 2005, at age 17 Katie was struck by viral encephalitis. Over night the personable teen and state record swimmer began a difficult chapter of her life which would change everything except for her sweet spirit and fighting spirit. Katie spent one month in a medically induced coma, and then 3 more months undergoing intensive therapy. With the constant support of family, the encouragement of many friends from school and church, Katie rallied to the point of finishing high school and eventually even taking university classes. She took special delight in working with special needs children in the water therapy program at the Local Y where she could help others. But the seizures returned, and Katie died last May 2008.
In the first week after her death many people who were blessed to know her began a campaign for an adapted therapy pool and facility which would serve children, adults, and even wounded military personnel who are in the Augusta area for long term rehabilitation.
Enter a current Trinity on the Hill teenager who is doing her senior project. I could share numbers of stories of those who do senior projects with focus on local, national, or international mission. Lara did a fundraiser for drilling a well in Kenya. Will did an emphasis on local mission to learn more about why some people give so much time in area ministries. Allie chose to do hers as a fundraiser for the Family Y for Katie's Pool.
To quote the local story which still brings tears to my eyes:
"Allie Howard, 17, wrote her senior paper on the effects of encephalitis, and her research reintroduced her to Miss York's inspirational story. Katie York was a friend of Allie's older brother, Ben, and a fellow member of Trinity on the Hill United Methodist Church.
Wanting to do more than just turn in a project for a grade, Allie decided to follow Miss York's example.
"'If someone with a disease can put on a smiling face and help others, then why can't I?' Allie said. 'I wanted to do something that would have a lasting impact.'"
"Allie organized a fundraising dinner at her church Jan. 29, inviting family, friends and fellow members to the $40-a-plate affair. The response went beyond those who attended, and she raised $5,700. She presented the donation check for Katie's Pool to the Family Y on Friday."
"'It's indescribable that this small project is going to help so many people,' Allie said. 'Looking at that building will remind me that even small people can play a part in something big.'"
"It is a fitting tribute to Miss York, who was determined to help make the pool a reality to serve the autistic children and other special-needs swimmers to whom she was devoted before her death at age 20."