Editorial: Honoring Katy’s Memory

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It is hard to fathom that it has been six years since a rare form of pediatric liver cancer claimed the life of 12-year-old Katy Stewart, a child who carried her heavy burden with a grace and dignity that was, quite simply, angelic.

But that passage of time was brought home poignantly on Saturday when a group of Pierson High School seniors — the teenagers Katy would have graduated with in two short months — joined more than 800 other participants for the annual Katy’s Courage 5K run in Sag Harbor on Saturday morning.

These are the same kids who shaved their heads in grade school when Katy lost her hair when she had to undergo chemotherapy or made sure to send along cards and gifts each time she was forced to endure another hospital stay.

“It’s incredible this is the sixth annual race,” said Denise Garcia, one of Katy’s friends. “It marks the years that have passed and it’s a really special moment for us. It’s amazing this many people come out to support her and her family.”

On Saturday, Katy’s classmates remembered a sweet, kind, fun, and loving friend who was taken from them too soon.

Fortunately, Katy’s parents, Jim Stewart and Brigid Collins, have done their best to make sure their daughter’s memory lives on through the Katy’s Courage charity, which has raised thousands of dollars for scholarships, pediatric cancer research and, most recently, Katy’s Kids @ CMEE, a center for grieving children at the Children’s Museum of the East End in Bridgehampton.

Katy’s Kids, which was launched last summer, now provides programming two days a week for children who have suffered a loss, and the family wants to expand its mission. “The kind of work we’re doing with Katy’s Kids makes a huge difference to the families who need it,” Ms. Collins said on Saturday.

This week, Ms. Collins said she has continued to receive solace from watching her daughter’s friends grow into the young adults who will soon be leaving Sag Harbor to embark on college careers. “I know that Katy touched their lives and it’s given them a special understanding that it’s important to enjoy every day,” she said.

Through the work of Katy’s Courage, the memory of a sweet child who died too young will continue to touch lives in positive ways.

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