When I happened upon an accident scene on Forbidden Drive early the morning of August 6, 2009, I never imagined I would be touched by the life of the victim, a young woman I never met. Last night, five years after Mary Katherine “Katie” Ladany’s life was cut short by the limb of a tulip poplar tree, I ran Forbidden Drive in her memory with some of her friends.
Others came to remember Katie too–the Principal, Dean of Students, and fellow teachers from Dobbins High School where Katie taught, high school and college friends, their husbands and children, the detective who investigated the accident scene, and those who call Forbidden Drive their home turf for running, walking and cycling, each with their own memories of that sad day. My wife, son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter were there. Some of Katie’s friends wrote to me that they wouldn’t be able to attend, but that their thoughts and prayers would be with her. Runners from as far away as Scotland ran a Virtual Run for Katie.
I’ve gotten to know more than I ever imagined about this young school teacher whose life was struck down too soon. The way Katie freely shared her incredible intellect with fellow-teachers and students, her pleasant nature and selflessness. In her honor a mathematics scholarship has been established at Dobbins High School in her name, sponsorship in her honor at Urban Promise in Camden, and a memorial placed at a camp where Katie was a counsellor in the summer.
I wrote an article about an accident that happened five years ago, and now a young woman I never met has touched my life. I wonder what drove me to write about Katie, and the only answer I come up with is that I was meant to cross paths with her legacy.