A Young Kindergarten Teacher’s Family and Community Remember Her

Sarah’s family share the mark she made on the world

On September 26, 2011, one word – Myocarditis – changed our lives forever.  At the time we did not know the disease or how it steals the lives of children and young adults without symptoms or warning.  Now the word strikes fear and sadness in our hearts.

Our daughter, Sarah, was the kind of person who would light up a room.  Her energy and enthusiasm for life were contagious.  Her BIG laugh was one thing we loved most about her.  Sarah was a 25-year-old bi-lingual kindergarten teacher, just starting her second year of teaching.  She had a passion for children and poured her heart and soul into her career.  She truly loved her students and worked hard to make learning fun.

On September 26, 2011, Sarah spent a typical day as a kindergarten teacher.  She taught during the day, attended a meeting in the late afternoon, and in the evening was working in her classroom on lesson plans.  Around 7:30 p.m. the school custodian discovered Sarah lying on her classroom floor where she had collapsed and died.  The weekend before she and her boyfriend were home to visit.  We attended a college football game, shopped for Halloween decorations for her classroom, spent time laughing and enjoying each other’s company.  Twenty-four hours after she left home, she was gone.  No illness, no symptoms, no worries in the world the day before.  We could not have suffered a bigger shock.

Thanks to a very diligent coroner, who was determined to find the cause of Sarah’s death, we learned of Myocarditis.  Since then, we have met other families devastated by this disease.  We hope Sarah’s story will bring an awareness of Myocarditis and help support research so that no more precious lives are lost.  Sarah brought joy to many people during her short time on this earth.  Our world is much too quiet without her.
Establishing the Sarah Knight Memorial Foundation in Sarah’s honor has helped us heal and find a way to continue Sarah’s legacy.  Each year we host a benefit golf tournament to raise funds to further Myocarditis research and fund a scholarship at Sarah’s alma mater, Western Illinois University.  In nine years have funded two $40,000 Myocarditis Foundation research grants and are well on our way to funding a third.  In addition, scholarship awards to students majoring in bi-lingual elementary education have totaled $27,000!   The success of our tournament is a result of the generosity of family, friends, friends of friends and business associates. We never dreamed the impact of Sarah’s golf tournament could be so profound.

We are thankful for Sarah’s favorite quote which gave us the courage to try: What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?  Thanks to her Foundation, she is still making a difference in our world.


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