Monday, May 21, 2012

Friday, May 18th, 2012

Today someone passed away who changed the lives of thousands of children across the United States.  Because of her and the determination of her parents, Peyton was able to come home from the hospital with a tracheostomy and a feeding tube. Because of her, we had nursing care to help in those first few years that were so terrifying and overwhelming.  Because of her, we have respite care now so that Travis and I can have a weekly date night.  Because of her, Peyton can live a life as close to normal as possible and she can do it at home instead of in an institution.  Thank you Katie.

Mary Katherine "Katie" Beckett

Mary Katherine “Katie” Beckett passed away at St. Luke’s Hospital on Friday, May 18, 2012. Known as “Katie” to many, her life and legacy will long be remembered.

Born March 9, 1978, to Mark and Julie Beckett at St. Luke’s, she will be remembered by many who passed through those doors: doctors, nurses, therapists, food service workers and cleaning staff who all loved and cared for Katie and her special needs. Her parents are most grateful for them in their instrumental role in her young life.

Katie is survived by her father, Mark William Beckett, and stepmom, Linda, and stepsister, Chelsea Lee; her mother, Julie Beckett; grandpa, Larry Beckett and stepgrandma, Maxine Houser; “Irish” family aunt, Mary Barbara Lenz of Dubuque, and cousins, Laura (Gustavo) and Lisa, and great-niece, Frances, and Dr. Joe and Hannah; uncle, John Joseph O’Connell III (Mary Jo), and cousins, Shannon (Nick) Lampe and John IV (Angie) O’Connell, and great-niece, Abby, and Ashleigh and Casey O’Connell; aunt, Maureen (Chris) O’Connell Barry, and cousins, Shaun (Ashley) and great-niece, Sophie, Kelly (Adam) Fabor, and great-niece, Raven, and great-nephew, Duncan, and Bailey (Matt Keister); uncle, William Ryan (Mary) O’Connell, and cousins, Ryan and Colton; uncle, Michael (Brenda) O’Connell, and cousins, Michael Jr. and Zachary John O’Connell, and Amanda DeDecker; uncle, Patrick (Sheryl) O’Connell, and cousins, Candace (Ryan) Murphy and Brandon O’Connell, and great-niece, Kaylyn; and uncle, Jamie (Dawn) O’Connell, and cousins, Megan and Shamus O’Connell. They will all live to support her memory.

Katie lived at St. Luke’s Hospital for 3 1/2 years in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and came home on Dec. 19, 1981, but only after Congressman Tom Tauke, Senators Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin, President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George W. Bush pushed to have an exception to Medicaid policy changed. Today, this monumental legislation is still referred to as the “Katie Beckett law” and now over a million individuals who would be living in hospitals or care centers are cared for at home and in their communities

She was always an advocate for people with disabilities and special health care needs, testifying many times before Congress and speaking across the country telling her story and making sure people paid attention to “including” people with disabilities in everyday life.

Katie was a writer, dying before she could complete her novel. She had a quick wit and a joyful presence; always tiny in stature, but with an intellect that warned you to tread lightly.

She will be greatly missed by her close friends, Beth, Julie, Erin, Shaun, Cassie and Jessica, as well as her family and the many people who benefited from the work she did. She leaves behind her “children,” the many stuffed animals who were her greatest confidants. She will miss Red Lobster, Barnes & Noble, Starbuck’s, Joe Raposo from Dream Street, WWE wrestling, and her unending love for Shaun Veers.

Waiting to greet her at the golden gates are her grandparents, Peggy Beckett and John and Barbara O’Connell; her beloved, Dr. Darrel Dennis; and her other “parents,” Polly Egan Arango and David Woll.

A visitation will be held Thursday, May 24, at Teahen Funeral Home from 4 to 8 p.m., with a vigil at 4 p.m. Her funeral will be Friday, May 25, at St. Matthew’s Catholic Church at 10 a.m.

According to her wishes her body will be donated to the University of Iowa to help health care workers learn from her experience. Even in death, she wanted to give back.

Online condolences may be left for the family at

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