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"Working to transform political, social and economic systems and institutions

to create a kinder, more equitable and just society for all."  

 

Caileigh was rushed in an ambulance to the ER on February 20, 2016 and remained in the hospital for 42 days. She passed away after 7 surgeries; just 9 days shy of her 18th birthday.

 

Undiagnosed Crohn's Disease and many complications that could have been avoided were too much for her body to overcome. She was told  by many  that  she was suffering with teenage girl  "anxiety" that caused stomach aches and “restricted eating.” 

Now we know that her issues were physical.  

Caileigh

Sometimes when you stand in the presence of greatness it is quiet and unassuming.  Sometimes greatness takes a humble appearance. Greatness does not always roar. Sometimes greatness is so unassuming and comfortable to be around that you take it for granted and just expect it to always be.

 

Every day of Caileigh’s precious life, she was greatness personified. Her greatness came in the ability to just be true to herself. To always smile. To be always kind and open-hearted. To remain, steadfast, passionate and convicted about the things that mattered to her. That mattered to those around her. She genuinely cared about the struggles of other people. To know her own worth while holding up and appreciating others. To giggle and laugh through life; appreciating the joy in little things like a funny Instagram post about golden retrievers that look like fried chicken or YouTube prank video. Her greatness was evident through her ability to always share a kind or uplifting word just when someone needed a new perspective or a supportive friend. Caileigh had a constant strength that quietly supported all of us, and perhaps, many of us took for granted that it would always just be there. Sadly none of us will ever be the same without  her. Caileigh was an old soul. She connected to people in a poignant way and you could often find her sitting with people older than she – teachers, older neighbors, her grandparents, her parent’s friends…..she was so interested in hearing stories, history, different perspectives beyond her age. She loved hanging out with her grandparents – watching hockey games, talking politics, driving and shopping.

 She had so many best friends from so many groups of people. From a 71 year old to an 8 year old and 6 year old “little bestie.”

Caileigh was full of life, light, pure goodness and such beauty. So very sweet. On many days her family would look at her and be amazed that she genuinely didn’t realize her magnificence. The fact that she didn’t know how spectacular she was - - in every way  -- made her gifts all the more special. Her family would often think to themselves, “how doesn’t she know that she is a beauty queen? How doesn’t she know how important she is?”

Caileigh’s ability to stand true to her thoughts and beliefs while not judging  others and graciously letting them take the limelight or the lead was perfection. She just wanted everyone to be happy. She saw the best in everyone.  She wanted everyone to feel loved.

Caileigh had a fierce love for her mommy and daddy and never wanted to be too far from either of them. Her,  her brother Christian and her parents spent most of their time together. And that is the way she liked it. She loved when her dad would make her delicious food, sit with her and just talk…he always waited on her and helped her through things.  Caileigh and her mom did everything together. They were co-pilots traveling through life; always side by side with Christian in tow.  In the car. At countless football games. Practices. Camps. Community leagues. Trips. The grocery store….over and over again. Talking and singing their way through it all.

That was Caileigh. Always in it with others. Always thinking she could find the answers and ways to help. She never wanted to disappoint anyone. Especially her mommy and daddy.  And she never did. They were proud of their girl every minute of every day. 

Caileigh and her little brother, Christian had so much  fun together. Christmas mornings. Building  countless snowmen and forts. Mommy, Caileigh and Christian collecting shells very early in the morning on their last trip to the beach and just standing together at the ocean will always be a peaceful and happy memory. Caileigh loved all of her cousins. She was always so proud of her big family and admired and counted on ALL of her Aunts and Uncles for fun, advice and help.  

 

Caileigh was an amazing human being and was destined for greatness beyond any of her family’s dreams for her. They just knew that she would go out into the world and do great work. Help people. Fight for the underdog. Bring joy to others. Be a force for good. Be a beautiful additional to the world beyond just her family and friends. Shine her light everywhere that she went. But catastrophically; that was not meant to be. It isn’t fair and it isn’t what should be. 

Caileigh fought like a warrior. 42 days in the ICU showing the strongest will to live that you would ever witness. Courage. Resilience and strength. Undiagnosed Crohn's Disease made her very sick. She was resolved to get through it and battled to extraordinary lengths to stay here with her family and friends.  More strength than most of us will ever need or will ever see. As her family stood by her side, they believed that she could conquer and win the battle………but the mountain that she had to climb was unbearably difficult…….. and ultimately, they know that it was she that decided it was not what she wanted for herself. She decided.

Never forget Caileigh’s goodness.  When you see kindness, when you are in the middle of a belly laugh about a silly FB post, think of Caileigh. Remember her. Do great things in her honor and name.

© 2019 by The Caileigh Lynn McDowell Foundation
 

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