Honoring Catie's Wish


When I'm sick, all I think about is what can I do to make me feel better?

That's why it's incredible to think a 7-year old, Cumberland county girl only thought of others when she was losing her battle with brain cancer.

Nine years ago, Catie O'Brien urged her family to raise enough money to operate St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Tennessee for one day.

Today, ”Catie's Wish” is still making a difference for children in Pennsylvania and around the world.

Kevin O'Brien, Catie's Dad says, "It wasn't about just raising money. If you can get people to pray for the kids at St. Jude, if you can get people to think about the kids at St. Jude and then she was really specific about the two of us and she said you know what, I want you guys to keep doing everything you can to make it better for the next set of parents."

Of course, Catie's mom and dad, Kevin and Christine, would prefer not having to prepare any other loved ones to go through the heartbreak they have, losing their young daughter to a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer 9 years ago.

Christine says, "She said to the doctor as she was leaving in a wheelchair knowing that she was going home to die, 'I am going to close this hospital! And the doctors were so great and said ‘we want you to’!"

In the meantime, the O'Briens do everything they can to grant Catie's wish every year on her birthday - April 23rd.

She asked for enough money to be raised to operate St. Jude's for the entire day, to the tune of more than $2,000,000!

Christine says, "She wanted to raise it for Ron, who changed the light bulbs so that she would pay his salary. And she wanted to pay for all the electricity and all the meals. She wanted to pay for the day."

And that was just part of Catie O’Brien's loving spirit.

Mia O'Brien, Catie's sister says, "She had a smile that would light up a block..."

One of many memories sister Mia has of Catie - who was a year older.

The O’Brien’s youngest child – M.E., short for Mary Elizabeth, was only 2 years old when Catie died.

But she understands the importance of supporting St. Jude's.

M.E. says, "Try to make a difference for the kids who have to go through what our family went through. Try to make a difference, maybe give a dollar or two to help those kids get through it a little bit better."

Kevin says, "This is not just about a little hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. This is about protocols and treatments that are being designed in Memphis, Tennessee by the best and brightest doctors and clinicians in the world and then sharing them freely with everybody. So this is not about touching kids in Memphis, this is about touching kids worldwide and here in the Central Pennsylvania area."

Although Catie is no longer here physically, her presence is still felt in everything the O'Briens do.

It's a spirit that continues to motivate complete strangers to help the O'Brien's keep Catie's wish.

Mia says, "It shows that even though she lost her battle, there's other people out there hearing her story and hearing what she went through and they are willing to help other kids that they aren't going to meet either. And then they are going to help them live through that, funding the research and funding the hospital and keeping the hospital doors open to help those kids."

One of the fundraisers to help honor Catie's wish is happening Saturday, March 3rd.

“Workout Against Cancer” is taking place from 9:00 to 11-30am at Progress Fitness in Susquehanna Township, Dauphin County.

It features Step, Cycling, Zumba and Pound for a $10 minimum donation.

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