From the Archives: Spring 2006 Lupus Now magazine
A Gift from "Today"
What do Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Elmo, Reese Witherspoon, Jamie Foxx, and Bill Clinton have in common? They, and dozens of other celebrities, all signed the 2005 NBC "Today" show autograph book while waiting in the Green Room before their appearance on the program. And now, the eBay auction of the book has brought nationwide attention and $34,107 in research funds to the Lupus Foundation of America (LFA).
The coveted Green Room book includes signatures and doodles provided by guests who appeared on the popular morning program, and for the first time, "Today" invited its viewers to help pick the charity to benefit from the annual eBay auction. Hundreds of emails poured in and the show ultimately chose the one from David Lytle of Litchfield, OH. Lytle nominated the LFA to honor the memory of Mary Katherine "Kassie" Biglow, a young wife and mother who worked as his caregiver. She died from complications of lupus in October 2004, one day before her 31st birthday.
Kassie was a close friend and personal care attendant for Lytle, a quadriplegic who suffered a spinal cord injury in an automobile accident. In nominating the LFA, Lytle wrote, "She never complained about her chronic illness. There are so many worthy charities that need our attention; however, lupus doesn't have an identity. Kassie wanted to create awareness of lupus, like the attention that Christopher Reeve gave to spinal cord injuries."
Kassie was diagnosed with lupus as a young girl and worked tirelessly as a member of the LFA, Akron, Ohio Chapter Board of Directors to increase public understanding and awareness.
Inspired by Mr. Lytle's kind gesture, LFA officials will use the auction proceeds to establish a research award in Kassie Biglow's name.
Mike Biglow, Kassie's husband, said she was a fighter her entire life. After they married in 2002, he became all too familiar with what it was like to live with this debilitating disease. Kassie's greatest dream and biggest challenge was to become a mother. Women with lupus have a higher rate of miscarriage, and Mike recalls the happiness of being able to say to their family, "It's a boy!"
Recalls Kassie's father Joe McMullin, "[Having Mikey] was just perfect. Life had been fulfilled for her."
A mere 10 months later, Kassie was rushed to the hospital with breathing problems. She slipped into a coma and died on October 14, 2004. Her legacy lives on through the lives she touched, and most of all, in Mikey, her proudest gift.
Special thanks to "Today" for the transcript of the January 18 segment during which they shared David Lytle's email and Kassie's story. Much of this article is based on quotes from that segment.