Katie's gift of life
even after death, a young girl keeps giving
By all accounts, Katie Caples was a giver. She gave her all on the athletic field as a junior on the Bishop Kenny High School cross-country team, helping them win a state championship. She shined in the classroom as a National Honor Society student. Katie also gave her time and energy to a number of charity and volunteer pursuits Habijax, Harbor House, St. Francis Soup Kitchen and an animal shelter, to name a few.
In April 1998, the 17-year-old Fernandina Beach resident was driving home from a Jacksonville charity walk-a-thon when a truck hit her car. Katie lingered in a coma for nearly a week before she died. Since she touched so many lives, it was no surprise to anyone that hundreds of people attended her funeral.
Ordinarily, that would be the end of the story, a young woman’s promising life tragically, senselessly, cut short. But even in death, Katie gave of herself one last time.
Katie registered as an organ donor on her driver’s license, and her parents, David and Susan Caples, made arrangements to honor Katie’s wish. In all, Katie’s organs and tissues benefited more than 200 people. Her parents hope a donor awareness program, sponsored by a foundation in Katie’s name, will save even more lives.
The Katie Caples Foundation will host the second annual Katie Ride for Life on Saturday, April 22, at Amelia Island. The one-day event will span four coastal islands and feature a 100 kilometer (62 miles) route for seasoned cyclists and two shorter rides for recreational enthusiasts. The bike ride has two objectives: to raise awareness about the critical need for organ donors, and to generate funding for educational programs.
Last year more than 200 cyclists helped raise $57,000 to help LifeQuest Organ Recovery Services implement a program to educate high school students on the importance of organ donation.
LifeQuest, based in Gainesville, is an organ procurement organization serving more than 70 healthcare facilities, including three transplant centers in north Florida. Staff members or volunteers from LifeQuest will visit 33 high schools in northeast Florida to present a program developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services called “Decision: Donation.” The presentation is geared towards freshman and sophomores students just getting their driver’s licenses. Included in the materials is a 13-minute video featuring teenagers who received and benefited from donated organs.
“The decision to become an organ and tissue donor is very important,” said Kathleen Giery of LifeQuest. “We hope that through this event, we not only can provide donor education to the community, but also raise funds for future donor education campaigns.”
For more information on the Katie Ride for Life, call the Katie Caples Foundation at (904) 261-1137 or visit www.katierideforlife.org.
||Novices to serious riders participated in the 2005 Katie Ride for Life. More than 90,000 Americans are on the natonal organ transplant waiting list, with 3000 listed at transplant centers in Florida.