Military Families: The Strength of One Child

This photo is from Kaitlyn's 2012 Relay for Life page. In the Japanese culture, the crane is a symbol of honor, loyalty and peace which exemplify her and her military family.

If I’ve learned anything about military families, it is that they pull together when faced with adversity. Their strength is a special bond forged through frequent moves and dangerous deployments.

Another remarkable thing about military families – despite their size and age – military children can be as mature and as mentally strong any adult.

That said, I bring you the story of Kaitlyn Gatewood. I know her dad. He’s a Public Affairs Officer for Tampa’s MacDill AFB 6th Air Mobility Wing. During one of the many press events at the base, I got to meet Katie.

Her hair was short – growing back after aggressive chemotherapy. And, she had bracelets with lovely beads – each signifying a trip to the hospital. Kaitie was diagnosed almost two years ago with of Acute Meyloid Leukemia, a rare form that affects only 500 children a year.

Kaitlyn’s whole military family – her dad, mother and teenage brother, Austin, spent the summer of 2010 virtually living at the hospital to support her.

Her dad wrote of that time:

One thing we remember her saying when this all started was, “if it’s time for God to take me then he will, if it’s not he’ll heal me.” that made us so proud that she was that mature at 13 years old.

Kaitlyn is now 15 and a sophomore at Newsome High School in Tampa. Through all this, she’s remained an honor student. She is also a cancer survivor with a goal to give back.

On April 20th at 6 p.m., she will serve as Team Captain for the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life-Interbay at Robinson High School in Tampa, Florida. She writes on her donation page:

My Reason to Relay

I am participating in the American Cancer Society?s Relay For Life because I want to make a meaningful difference in the fight against cancer.

On June 11, 2010, at the age of 13, I was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of leukemia. I received six months of aggressive Chemo-therapy.

Now, a year after I finished treatment, I want to help others with their fight. My friends and I will help find the answer to cancer!

Her team goal is $5,000 and the team has raised $4,505. (Those goals are revised from the original post – upward.) She would love to blow that goal out of the water.


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