Nation to Katie: You're in Our Prayers
January 23, 2005
Katie Warnecke is only in the seventh grade, but already she's been able to reach nearly all 50 of the states on her U.S. map. The 12-year-old uses her finger to trace the lines of New Mexico, New York and Florida. She's never been to those places, but people are praying for her there.
In early January, Katie, who attends Banquete Junior High, was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. When her pastor from Agua Dulce Baptist Church came to visit her at Driscoll Children's Hospital, he brought with him a small, ordinary pager with an extraordinary purpose - to go off every time a prayer was said in her name.
The church congregation busied themselves with e-mailing Katie's story and her pager number to everyone they knew - all over the country. The instructions were to say a prayer, dial her pager number and instead of a phone number leave their ZIP code so Katie would know where they lived.
It's only been a week since the e-mailing, but her list of ZIP codes has spread like wildfire. "I didn't expect this many calls," Katie said, flipping through purple-inked pages of places all over the country. "I had to put it on vibrate instead of letting it beep."
No sooner had Katie made light of how much the constant beeping was wearing on her, the pager was going off again and again. First 78536, El Centro. Then 75063 and 32536, Irving and Crestview, Fla. She added them to the list to look up on the Internet.
Katie said she's still missing Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, and New Hampshire. Katie said she's hopeful that, by the end of the week, all the states on her map will be blue.
To reach Katie:
1. When you’ve said your prayer, dial (361) 333-KATY (5289). 2. You’ll hear a message confirming that you’ve reached the pager 3. At the beep, dial in your ZIP code and the # key. (example: 78401#)
"She's got one from the Virgin Islands and an e-mail message from a solider in Iraq," said dad Edward Warnecke. "If she can make it around the country in less than two weeks, maybe she can make it around the world."
Katie is a quiet girl with strawberry blond hair skimming her slight shoulders and freckles dotting her fair cheeks. She makes straight A's, loves math and, up until she was hospitalized a few weeks ago, she hadn't missed a day of school. On Friday, Katie said she was feeling OK, despite the long hours spent in town for blood tests and chemotherapy treatments. Even with all the medicine and doctors visits, she said she feels no different from the kid she was a few weeks ago. "I feel pretty much the same," she said.
Edward said his daughter has told him she doesn't want to know all the details or what doctors have to say. "She just wants to take it one day at a time."
Even though Katie jokes she's had to change the battery in her pager three times so far and the constant ringing drives her a little crazy, she appreciates every time it goes off. "It's been great support," she said. "It's what's helped me.
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