Date For Life was created by Lynn Poferl and Sara Darling in memory of Lynn’s daughter, Katie Jurek, with the goal of helping children and families who are faced with the effects of childhood cancer. Both. Lynn and Sarah, having strong ties to the Twin Cities’ #1 matchmaking service, the duo decided that a Bachelor and Bachelorette auction was the perfect way to accomplish this goal and bring awareness to the important work being done by CCRF.
Katie graduated from Tartan High School in 2004. She was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, which is a form of bone cancer, on July 31, 2002. By the time she was diagnosed, her entire right femur had been overtaken by the cancer. Over the course of the next 13 months, she had aggressive chemo treatments, multiple surgeries – including one to replace her femur with a metal bond – and countless hours of physical therapy. She missed her entire junior year at Tartan in Oakdale, Minnesota, but when she felt up to it, her mother would bring her to Tartan for lunch. She would sit through all four lunches so she could visit with her friends. Many of the kids at Tartan only knew her as the girl with cancer. She would come to school bald, pale, skinny and walking with crutches, but she always had a huge smile on her face and people noticed.
Katie refused to miss her first day of her senior year. She had received her last chemo treatment only four days prior to that. She came to school with IV fluids running, bandana on her head and again, that huge smile on her face. She even had to have one of the Children’s Hospital nurses come to the school to draw blood for lab work. Katie made the most of every minute of her senior year.
In September of 2005, her worst fears were confirmed. Her cancer had returned. It was terminal. Katie was given a choice; amputate your leg or die within three months. It was an agonizing time. She chose to amputate and adapted quickly. She tried various treatments including chemo, radiation, and more surgery. Still, her spirit shined through. She went back to college, she went back to work, and she traveled to as many places as she could, traveling as far as Paris and Alaska. She packed as much life into every day as she could. In February 2007, her body could no longer support her. Her spirit kept her going as long as it could, but her battle ended on February 22.
Katie taught us many things, but one lesson she taught us all is that when life-changing events happen to you, only you can make the decision as to how it will impact your life. You can choose to let the negative consume you, or you can live your life to its fullest.