One of Kaitlyn Lee Ridenour's dreams in life was to become a teenager, her grandmother Carol Davis said Monday.
That's what Kaitlyn did, too, two weeks before she died.
If Kaitlyn, 13, wanted to do something, Ms. Davis said, she found a way to do it. She survived a malignant brain tumor when she was 18 months old and was free of cancer for 11 years. She died Dec. 28, however, after a nine-month bout with small-cell ovarian cancer.
"Every day was a gift, and she lived it to the fullest," said her mother, Debra Allsup. "I had specifically asked the Lord to give us her birthday and Christmas."
Kaitlyn never wanted sympathy, Ms. Allsup said. Instead, she gave to others.
"She just lived until she died, and I never want her life to be defined by her death," she said.
When Kaitlyn was born, some said she would never walk, much less dance, Ms. Allsup said. Still, the Lakeside Middle School pupil advanced to level 5 in her jazz classes.
She came for a purpose, her mother said, and that purpose was to teach others how to live.
"She had her good days and her bad days, but to her, every day was a good day," Ms. Allsup said. "She showed me how to live beyond my circumstances."
Kaitlyn served on the Kids Arts Advisory Council at Medical College of Georgia's Children's Medical Center, never missing a meeting, her mother said. In December, she helped choose cupholders for the hospital's beds. The "Katie's cups," one of the marks she left behind, will help sick children who don't have the strength to hold a cup on their own.
"She felt a calling to make a difference," Ms. Allsup said of her daughter's "goodness, kindness and love beyond measure."
Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or firstname.lastname@example.org.