Claire came into the world quietly! She arrived in the world a day later than planned and, as she would have it, by her schedule! She weighed a whopping 10 lbs. at birth! She was a happy baby (mostly). Unlike her older brothers Claire from a very early age had no interest in athletics directly! She did, however, love the chance to go to their games and she rarely missed any! The boys’ childhood athletic events were typically played in and around the Tippecanoe County community. She never really spent much time watching them. Claire was too busy playing with the other kids! She made childhood friends quickly and she managed to keep many of them throughout her life! Often on the ride home she would ask “Did we win”? Claire was in all truth a social butterfly!
Claire loved spending summers with her cousins! There were many of them and as soon as summer was official they would all quickly gravitate to my niece’s house! We adults suspected that it was the best place for them to meet up because “Aunt Meg” had a pool! This was Claire’s perfect world! Family, pool parties, and games was how she spent her early childhood years. She would come out of her bedroom with her little suitcase and boldly announce to Tami and I the next planned stop on the family summer circuit! She never really liked her parents intervening in her travel plans, but at the mention of her mother missing her she would quietly give in and come home from her revelry! After all, her mother was her very best friend and she made that apparent daily! If the truth be told I think Claire missed her mom too!
Claire’s school years were spent in the Lafayette Catholic School System in Lafayette, Indiana! She followed her older brothers’ footsteps and began her education at St. Mary’s Cathedral preschool and continued through the completion of her ninth grade year at Lafayette Central Catholic High School. It was in preschool Claire met her earliest school friends and they remained her friends the remainder of her life! During Claire’s middle school years at St. Boniface Middle School, also in Lafayette, I ran the athletics programs for the students. You could bet on the nights when I was at St. B’s with the kids she would be half a step behind me, managing the smaller children by providing coloring books and hallway games. Often she would escort the smaller children to the school library where she would read to them. She loved occupying the little ones while their older siblings were locked in competition in the gymnasium! I still refer to her as the best Assistant Athletic Director of St. Boniface!
At the close of Claire’s ninth grade year at Lafayette Central Catholic, Claire began to suffer sporadic joint, back and leg pains. Her complexion began to pale and she began to sleep for long periods. Through a quick series of visits to the pediatrician and the emergency room, on the afternoon of June 3, 2011 Claire was admitted to a local hospital for testing. That evening Tami and I sat with Claire in a hospital room waiting for the test results to come back. Our pediatrician determined that something very serious was happening to Claire. There were signs of a severe infection and was therefore referring Claire to Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis just 65 miles south of Lafayette. He had already arranged for an ambulance. Tami rode in the ambulance with Claire and after a quick stop at home I followed in our car. Claire was admitted to Riley Children’s Hospital on the night of June 3, 2011 for follow up testing. On Monday morning June 6 a Pediatric Oncologist paid us a visit. She informed us that Claire was battling two highly dangerous illnesses! She was battling a raging infection which had not as yet been identified and that it was further determined that Claire was also suffering from APML (Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia). We were informed that either illness was treatable individually, but both illnesses together placed Claire in a grave situation! On Wednesday June 8, 2011 our beautiful daughter Claire Elizabeth Mackey lost her life! Claire left this world surrounded by all her loving family! She returned home to Christ and those of us who loved her dearly have been left with a deep and abiding sadness in our lives! Pediatric Cancer had touched our family’s lives for the first time!
Patrick was a 2013 graduate of Lafayette Central Catholic High school in Lafayette, Indiana. Patrick was baptized into the Catholic faith at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Lafayette, Indiana and attended the Lafayette Catholic School system throughout his brief life! Patrick worked very hard to build his character as a young man into a reflection of his personal faith! He loved his faith, his family and Indiana high school football. He loved school! He was a four year member of the Mock Trial Association, he was a four year participant in the school plays, and a four year high school varsity Athlete! Until his diagnosis in late March of 2013 Patrick was making plans to attend Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.Patrick was the kind of soul who put his faith into practice! He did this through service to his community! During the post season playoffs Patrick’s team found themselves playing for the Semi-state championship on the road to the small community of Winamac, Indiana. The week leading up to this game Patrick’s team learned that a player from the Winamac football team had a younger brother who had recently been diagnosed with Leukemia. Having lost his younger sister Claire to an aggressive form of Leukemia in June of 2011 he was deeply aware of this families fears! Patrick and his fellow team captains quickly organized a team fundraiser for this family, delivering just over $400 from the team alone! Prior to the game Patrick and his team mates invited their Winamac rivals to join with the Knights on the fifty yard line of the Winamac High School football stadium for a group prayer for this boy and his family! Shortly after this amazing night Winamac High school sent to Lafayette Central Catholic a framed poster sized banner of this prayerful moment caught on camera by a Winamac parent. This banner shows boys from both teams huddled together in prayer and it reads “We are all brothers”! It hangs proudly in the front lobby of the main entrance of Lafayette Central Catholic.Patrick’s class had just closed out a four year high school football career win / loss record of 54-1. Winning four consecutive IHSAA class A State Championships! Including his teams consecutive title games Patrick had the opportunity to play at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis a total of seven times during his high school career, winning all seven appearances. Patricks’ efforts off the field as well as his solid work on the field earned him recognition around the state. On March 17, 2013 Patrick had the honor of being awarded two “Griddy” awards. These awards are given after review of 18,000 high school varsity football athletes by a state panel of coaches and sportswriters! The “Griddy” award is to Indiana High school football what the ESPY awards are to National Collegiate Varsity Football. Just eight days following what was to that point the biggest night of his life Patrick was diagnosed with ALL B Cell Leukemia! During the course of his treatment, and because of his efforts off the football field, in June of 2013 Patrick received the National Football Foundation Joe Tiller Chapter at Purdue University “Courage in Sports” award. This award has been posthumously renamed “The Patrick G. Mackey Courage in Sports” award.On the morning of March 25, 2013 Patrick underwent testing at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. Following eight and a half months of treatment and following a stem cell transplant Patrick lost his life! He now rest in peace next to his younger sister Claire in the St. Mary’s cemetery in Lafayette! Pediatric cancer had once again struck our family and once again a beautiful and promising life was stolen from us! Patrick left this world surrounded by all his loving family! He returned home to Christ and those of us who loved him dearly have been left with a deep and abiding sadness in our lives! Pediatric Cancer had touched our family’s lives for the second time!