KATIE'S WISH: Community members honor local teacher's final wish after she passes away

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) – Before losing her battle to skin cancer, a local teacher and recent Golden Apple Award recipient made a special request. Sunday, community members dug deep into their pockets to help honor the late teacher by granting her last wish.

Katie Haugen is described by friends as caring, inspirational, and generous. “She has given back to the Eau Claire community in numerous ways as a special education teacher at Sam Davey Elementary School and she was also a Special Olympics coach and then her and her husband would take in children on the weekends and do respite for them as well, says Carly Rubenzer, friend and former co-worker.

Sadly, Katie Haugen passed away on February 16th of this year after a short battle with cancer. She was diagnosed with stage four Metastatic Melanoma in January of 2017. “From her diagnosis, she showed incredible bravery strength and grace. She tried every treatment that was out there for the kind of cancer that she had and she never gave up hope," says Rubenzer.

Haugen dedicated her life to helping others and her students were very important to her. Haugen sent valentines to school for her students this year, just two days before she passed away. Her legacy of generosity lives on through a wish she made before passing away. Haugen wished for all memorials and donations upon her passing to benefit Sam Davey Elementary School where she spent a decade of her teaching career.

Community members spent the day helping make that wish come true with a shopping day at Mainstream Boutique in Eau Claire. The sales the store earns during the Sunday shopping event will be donated to Sam Davey’s PTA.

Katie was a customer at Mainstream and shares mutual friends with the owners of the store. "We've always had a little bit of a history at Mainstream to give back, especially to education purposes, teachers or schools so this fit with what we were doing and then at the same time we were able to honor Katie," says Tanya Berg, Mainstream Boutique Owner.

Berg says the shopping event is a way to give back to the community the way Katie did. "We've had multiple people come in not even willing to give their name, making monetary donations that we'll give to Sam Davey and it just goes to show that community is everything and that we're all in it together...."

Mainstream Boutique raised more than $2,500 dollars from sales for Katie's Wish. The store also received additional cash donations. The store will honor online and instore receipts this week for people still interested in donating. Contact the store at 2857 Mall Dr, Eau Claire, WI 5470 for more information.

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