Thursday's child has far to go……
But this Thursday’s child was stopped … way too early … on a Thursday night in October 2014.
Kaitlin Nicole Abel (Dec. 13, 1990 to Oct. 30, 2014)
Twenty-three-year-old Kaitlin was less than five minutes from her home when her “bright light was cut out that night by a drunk driver." He was operating his vehicle, driving while intoxicated with nearly three times the PA legal limit of .08, and he drove directly into wrong-way traffic on Route 13 in Falls Township, striking two vehicles.
The beloved Lower Makefield young woman was killed.
Kate’s memory box was found tucked under her bed. She wanted to be married and have three kids.
The drunk driver is out of jail now. It is her family that has the heartbreaking life sentence to bear.
Every day, 29 people in the USA die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. That is one death every 50 minutes; more than 10,000 lives per year.
Every one of these casualties is someone's son or daughter, husband or wife, mother, father, or friend.
Timothy Joseph and Kathleen Abel said the birth of their first child, Kaitlin Nicole “made December wonderful for us!”
“Kaitlin was a fun kid. She loved school and she had a good group of friends,” her parents confirmed.
Kate was a Girl Scout and an accomplished athlete. She played some fierce soccer, competed in AAU basketball starting in the 7th grade, and she enjoyed playing softball at St. John the Evangelist.
But it was basketball that became her main sport throughout high school.
“I coached her in the CYO girls’ soccer team at St. John the Evangelist School,” her father shared. “We called her ‘Boomer’. She kicked the ball further than the Eagles’ punter!”
Kate exuded kindness and she had an unforgettable impact on those who were fortunate enough to have known her. She unselfishly participated in the ‘Friends of Jimmy V Foundation’ fundraiser for Cancer Research that was founded by ESPN and the late legendary basketball coach Jim Valvano.
She was one who literally lit up the room when she walked in. She was definitely that type of person!
Kate was a LaSalle University Biology major, with a minor in English.
While at Villa Joseph Marie High School, “She loved English in Ms. Laurie McBrinn’s class!” shared her mom.
After graduating from LSU, Kate was hired by Thomas Jefferson University to work in the Kimmel Center for cancer research doing genomic testing. She was also a student teacher for the anatomy and physiology lab at LaSalle University.
“Her dream was to be a physical therapist. She had just started attending the University of the Sciences in May 2014,” her father stated.
Kate volunteered at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital, part of Jefferson Health, and at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia [CHOP] where her mother is an RN in the NICU.
Her sister, Julianna, is currently an RN at CHOP as well.
Kate’s father owns Medical Equipment Services Unlimited, a medical supply company.
Kate still opted to keep her beloved teenage job at Sesame Place so she could work through the holidays. At first, she had shared that she still wanted to play basketball over the break, so she was assigned to clean the park. Eventually she worked her way up to become a culinary supervisor and she truly enjoyed that opportunity to run Elmo’s Eatery, THE place to go for pizza, chicken nuggets, and pasta.
Her parents acknowledged, “She was a hustler!”
The confirmed coffee lover also worked at Starbucks and at the Brittingham's Pub in Lafayette Hill.
Kate’s parents wanted to do something in her memory, “But we were stuck. We originally just set out to make a donation in Kate’s name. We wanted to give back to Villa for doing so much for our daughters.
Kate came out so prepared and she laid the groundwork for the others, Timothy Shane, HGP ’11, Julianna Catherine, VJM ’14, and Marissa Kathleen, VJM ’17.
Villa supported us and offered the much needed emotional support for Kate’s sisters.”
Mrs. Abel recalled their last night of all of them together as a good memory.
“We had a good night. Marissa was working on making a Medusa head for a VJM Latin class, where she also had to write a paper. Kate always loved Latin, so she cheerfully proof-read Marissa’s paper. After dinner, Kate drove Julianna back to Holy Family University. We have a lot of love in this house!”
The Abel family wants Kate to always be remembered.
Basketball was her favorite sport. The Villa Joseph Marie Athletic Director came up with a great idea!
“Basketball was such a huge and important part of Kate’s life. We had wanted to do an event in honor of Kate’s life and legacy and a memorial basketball tournament just seemed to be the perfect way to do that,” shared Mrs. Becky Flynn Hensel.
“Thankfully, Becky suggested a tournament that could bring the seventh & eighth-graders from neighborhood schools. So many volunteered to make this happen! We wanted it to be a fun event and we were truly surprised at how big it became, and we heard from alums and their family and friends. It was the perfect fit!”
Her parents confirmed, “Just seeing all the people and sharing the memory of Kate captured that she truly had so many different groups of friends. For her, the people connection was huge!
We are so thankful for family, friends and all of the support. Our sometimes forgetful Kate had lost her school ring and misplaced her yearbook. Her friends found them for us and returned them.”
Kaitlin Nicole Abel’s memory is very much alive at Villa and she is STILL impacting so many others.
“The goals of the Kate Abel Memorial Tournament were to provide a vehicle which would perpetuate Kate’s memory and an opportunity for her loved ones and friends to create something beautiful and positive from an incredibly tragic loss,” the VJM Director of Institutional Advancement, Mrs. Jennifer Drayer- McDonald explained. “The proceeds from the 2019 Kate Abel Memorial Tournament provided funding for two scholarships, which were awarded in spring 2020 for the 2020-2021 school year. One scholarship was awarded to a rising Senior; the other to a rising Junior. These students were selected from the Villa student body by the faculty and staff. The criteria included a demonstration of kindness toward others, strong academic focus, involvement in athletics or extracurricular activities, a commitment to community service and charitable organizations, a strong work ethic, and a value of friendships and willingness to assist others, oftentimes behind the scenes.”
Time came again to work on Kate’s Annual Memorial Tournament.
Jen McDonald added, “Villa is honored that the Abel Family has chosen to pay tribute to Kate’s memory in this way. As a parent, I can imagine that, under their circumstances, it would be easy to become consumed with grief and hardened toward the world. Instead, the Abels have chosen to celebrate Kate and model her spirit and love for life.”
“Because COVID prevents us from hosting the 2nd annual Kate Abel Memorial CYO Tournament, we were trying to figure out a way to keep the success of last year’s event fresh and keep the momentum going. Our outdoor COVID-friendly fall event with fire pits, a food truck, and all of Kate’s friends will be a fun way to continue to celebrate Kate,” the VJM A.D. assured.
“We hope to resume the tournament in 2021,” added Jennifer.
This socially-distanced Kate Abel Memorial Alumnae & Friends event will be held on Saturday, November 28, with fire pits, music, and a food truck at Villa Joseph Marie.
Visit www.vjmhs.org/abel for more information, to register for the event, and to donate directly to the scholarship.
December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month.
Since the holiday season has a higher accident rate than others on average, it is vitally important to echo the message of consciousness of being in a proper state behind the wheel.
Stop Drinking. Start Thinking. Save A Life.
Recommend a “Spotlight”. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org