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Wednesday, April 22, 2009, 10:20 AM
Mary Claire Satterly Foundation honors namesake's vivacious spirit
By Lisa Boykin Batts | Daily Times Lifestyle Editor
The story of Mary Claire Satterly's illness and sudden death was heart-breaking for anyone who heard it, but it's the way she led her life that the young woman's family wants people to remember.
And thanks to a foundation set up in her memory, her good deeds continue.
Mary Claire, the 27-year-old daughter of Joan and Chip Satterly, had an infectious laugh and a knack for making others feel better, her mother said.
"She had a vivacious spirit. She was a worker bee; she worked hard and accomplished a lot."
Just over a year ago, the Hunt High School graduate was at the top of her game. She was living in San Francisco, working for the ad agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, living just an hour or so from her big sister Karen. She was a runner and enjoyed jogs over the Golden Gate Bridge. She liked to entertain and would treat her guests to eastern North Carolina barbecue and deviled eggs.
She also enjoyed coming back home to Wilson.
On March 28 of last year, Mary Claire made the trip home for the baptism of her goddaughter, Carson Kuhn. Carson's mom is school chum Amanda Bowen Kuhn. Over that weekend, the Satterly family shopped and also volunteered at The Brittany soccer tournament, but Mary Claire wasn't feeling well. By the time Monday morning rolled around, her father, a physician, insisted she not fly home but stay in Wilson and see a doctor.
By Wednesday, Mary Claire was headed to UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill with a diagnosis of acute myelogenous leukemia. She grew weaker and was moved to the intensive care unit, and by Monday, she was gone.
Once her family got beyond the initial shock of losing Mary Claire, they started talking about what they could do to continue her good deeds and energetic spirit. The result is the Mary Claire Satterly Foundation, whose motto is "Spirited Living, Inspired Giving."
Mary Claire's siblings -- Karen Bensch, Laura Satterly and Stephen Satterly-- as well as her friends and co-workers were eager to help and needed a project, Joan Satterly said. This was the right vehicle for their energies.
"The young people had something to grasp to," she said.
The foundation was officially launched on Mary Claire's birthday, July 8, with a Web site telling about the foundation and its initial project: the Mary Claire Satterly Pediatric Oncology Playroom in the new N.C. Cancer Hospital in Chapel Hill, which opens this fall. As of Monday, the foundation has raised just over $214,000.
The Web site, www.mcspirit.org, was designed by family friend Spencer Gibbs and tells Mary Claire's story, gives updates on the foundation and shares photographs from a variety of events. There are even photos of the Satterlys visiting the playroom as it progresses.
The playroom seemed the perfect fit for Mary Claire, who not only loved children but is also a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Much of the money donated from the foundation has come from individual donors, including several around the time of the UNC basketball team's national championship win. But other funds have come from events. At the Museum of the City of New York in November, more than 600 people attended a fundraiser in honor of Mary Claire, who once lived in New York. It was Mary Claire's New York co-workers and friends who spearheaded this event, along with her sister Laura, who still lives there. Close to $90,000 was raised at that function.
The next big event will be in North Carolina later this year.
Stephen Satterly said he doesn't consider the foundation as a coping mechanism; he sees it as a way to honor his sister's beautiful life.
"It's helped me because it gives me just another way to tell my sister's story and to hopefully make a difference in other people's lives as she made in ours."
The family has been extremely pleased with the response to the foundation, he said, and will add more projects once the playroom is funded.
"We continue to be amazed and thankful for all the people who are getting involved with the foundation, and at the same time we will continue to encourage them and many others to continue to spread MCSpirit."
firstname.lastname@example.org | 265-7810
To learn more information about the Mary Claire Satterly Foundation, visit www.mcspirit.org.
Mary Claire Satterly Foundation
P.O. Box 7482
Wilson, NC 27895
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