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My Friend Kate…And Her Legacy

Our friend Katy was stricken with breast cancer. We were devastated…but had endless faith that she would beat it. She did not. On April 16, 2011 we were by her side when she passed.

This sounds like a sad story…and it is…but recently we had a glimpse into how she REALLY made a difference in this world. More than we had even imagined.

She was involved in the health care industry almost her entire career. The last position she held was Deputy Director for Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) which is Arizona’s Medicaid agency that offers health care programs to serve Arizona residents. We always said she had a ‘big dog” job. And she took it seriously.

Prior to this position she worked for Mercy Care Plan. And as it turns out…they REALLY appreciated her.

After her passing we were notified that Mercy Care Plan wanted to honor Kate. They formed an annual award established by the board of directors of Southwest Catholic Health Network (Mercy Care Plan) to memorialize Kate Aurelius. The award recognizes Kate’s dedication to ensuring quality health care for the underserved and is was open to employees who have demonstrated a passionate commitment to Mercy Care members.

Mercy Care was kind enough to send invitations to Kate’s parents and brother to attend this event. Additionally they included my husband, myself and another of Kate’s best friends, Terri.

We met the kind folks from Mercy Care the night before the event at Michelina’s. It was SO GOOD I even wrote a blog about it.

The next morning we gathered at a conference center in Tempe and boy were we surprised! It was a HUGE room filing up with Mercy Care employees. They had a slideshow running showing pictures of Kate.

It was enjoyable and overwhelming to meet some of Kate’s professional friends and listen to the level of respect and love they had for her. Kate’s parents and brother were very touched. As were we.  Here they are along with our friend Terri.

Another surprise came in the form of a barn owl…believe it or not! Mercy Care Plan also chose to donate $500 annually in Kate’s name to Liberty Wildlife for protection of barn owls. This is a charitable organization that Kate was very supportive of and involved with as a volunteer for over 10 years. Because this is the first year…they gave a $1500 bonus…for a total of $2000! Liberty has a special barn owl habitat named for Kate. This generous gift will go far in support of Liberty.

There were several finalists nominated for the award. They were all deserving and humbled to be nominated. They introduced each of the finalists. One of the finalist was named Madge. The crowd REALLY swelled with applause when her name was mentioned. She was referred to by her nickname, Magic. Well..the crowd was right…she was named the award recipient. In learning more about her I think she might very well be “magic”. It was repeated over and over that one only has to give her a task…and consider it done. Much like Kate’s style.

To all the folks that made this happen, and I think I speak for the family, we were all touched, blessed, and feel a great sense of pride to be part of Kate’s life and legacy. The event was well organized and went off without a hitch. Thank you so much.



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