Community walks to honor Katie Vashon

David Hutter

Nearly 500 people participated in an on-campus fund-raiser walk April 9 that was held in memory of Katie Vashon, a Quinnipiac student who died of leukemia on Oct. 14, 2005.

The “Strides for Sunshine” walk raised more than $12,800 for Camp Sunshine, a retreat facility in Casco, Maine, that provides entertainment opportunities to children who are coping with terminal illnesses and their families. Vashon had volunteered at the camp and had raised money for it.

Members of the university’s four Greek life organizations, several of the sports teams, the Sports Information Department, and Vashon’s family walked a 5-kilometer course. Along the way, walkers passed posters reading “Katie was smitten in love with her nephew Jack” and “Katie’s friends and family meant everything to her.”

Jim Vashon, the father of Katie Vashon, said the walkers exemplified the caring and tight-knit environment that comprises Quinnipiac University.

“The walk is an outpouring of love. I just can’t believe Katie would have had this kind of effect on this many people,” he said.

Carmen Vashon, the mother of Katie Vashon, said she was grateful for the walkers’ remembering her daughter by raising money to support a cause to which she had dedicated herself wholeheartedly.

“I’m just so thankful and grateful for the good everyone is doing to help Camp Sunshine. Katie really believed in the mission of Camp Sunshine. And the sense of community here among the students, staff, and athletics department is just unbelievable, too,” she said.

Katie Vashon was a senior from Hermon, Maine. She was majoring in public relations, belonged to the Phi Sigma Sigma sorority, and belonged to the School of Communications honorary society Lambda Pi Eta. She had worked in the Sports Information Department for four years.

Michael Kobylanski, director of the Sports Information Department, described Katie Vashon as someone who constantly emanated an infectious vibe to whomever happened to be near her.

“Katie just had this amazing personality – everyone gravitated to her. She made you feel like you were the only person in the room. It has not been the same since,” he said.

The walk was sponsored by Phi Sigma Sigma, the Athletics Department, and friends and family of Katie Vashon. It began and finished outside the gymnasium. The cost to participate was $5 for people who registered before April 7 and $10 thereafter. Sponsorship was encouraged.

At the conclusion of the walk, Bianca Balassone, the president of the university’s chapter of Phi Sigma Sigma, thanked the participants for helping to celebrating the life of Katie Vashon by raising money for Camp Sunshine.

“If it wasn’t for our sunshine – and Katie was our sunshine, this wouldn’t have been successful,” she said.