“On April 27, 2018, my daughter Kaylie was killed in a horrible vehicle accident at her senior prom. She was one of my closest friends. We grew up together and learned from each other because I had her at an early age.
When she was younger, we lived at my parents’ house. Kaylie’s Aunt Ashee and Uncle Andrew lavished her with gifts. Kaylie adored everyone, but her Papaw, my father, was her absolute favorite. They would play with Barbies for hours and have tea parties. They couldn’t be separated. Kaylie was saddened when he died when she was five years old. As the years passed, Kaylie learned of his condition and how he underwent two kidney transplants that extended his life by 13 years. This has stayed with her all these years.
Kaylie was a brilliant young lady. Throughout elementary school, she was in talented classes, and during her junior and senior years of high school, she attended college courses and AP programs at Miami University. She managed to keep a job and maintain excellent grades. She had been accepted to The Ohio State University, her dream school, and was planning to start in the autumn to pursue a medical career with her closest friend.
She cried the happiest tears I had ever seen from my little girl when she found out she had been admitted. She was ecstatic to begin the new chapter of her life.
On the night of April 27th, I was there photographing my lovely kid with her lifelong pals. They all seemed very joyful and gorgeous. Senior prom is one of the most memorable events of your senior year. I gave her a big embrace and told her I loved her and that she should be careful. ‘I love you too, Momma, and don’t worry; I’ll take care of it,’ she responded.
I trusted her because she had a solid head on her shoulders, and I constantly told her I trusted her, but I was more concerned about the other folks. They all got into the beautiful automobile and drove away; I waved goodbye. Never in a million years did I anticipate that would be the last time I saw my baby girl alive, heard her voice, or felt her close embrace. She was flung more than 50 feet from the car transporting her and her companions to the Senior prom only 15 minutes after telling me she loved me. She was airlifted to the University of Cincinnati, where she put up a valiant three-day struggle. The number of family and friends who packed the waiting area was incredible. It was overwhelming and humbling to see how much love and support my baby received. Unfortunately, she fought bravely but was left without oxygen for much too long after the accident and was pronounced brain dead at 11:27 a.m. on April 30.
Kaylie had donated her organs. She was ecstatic to display that on her driver’s license. She was aware that her Papaw had been granted this gift twice because someone said yes to being an organ donor, allowing her to adore him for many more years. We asked the doctor if Kaylie would be capable of doing this, and she said yes. The whole thing was incredible. Not only did the Life Center Operations Director treat her family and us with respect, but he also treated Kaylie with respect. She walked us through the entire process and was there for us every step.
Kaylie provided the gift of life to six people, the gift of sight to two, and tissue and skin donations to almost 50 people in the end. We may be able to meet the recipients of Kaylie’s presents shortly. As a present from Life Center, we received teddy bears with her heartbeat and necklaces with her thumbprint, which I will treasure forever. I’ve witnessed this process from both the receiving and providing sides. It’s the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen.
I want as many people as possible to hear Kaylie’s story. I want others to know of her passion for life and her family and friends. Teenagers should understand that they are not invincible. I want people to understand that anything can happen to anyone. I want people to understand the importance of organ donation, and maybe, after viewing this, they will not hesitate when asked if they want to be organ donors at the DMV. I urge people to give their loved ones hugs and tell them they are loved every day because you never know when it will be your last.
‘You Are My Sunshine was Kaylie’s favorite song when she was younger. She was a bright spot in our otherwise gloomy world. So, whenever the sun shines or peeks through the clouds, remember that Kaylie contributed to making the world a better place and will continue to do so for years and generations to come. She has always been, and always will be, our ray of brightness.”