Katie McAlinden of Chicago, Illinois

CANCER FREE SINCE: February 1, 2012

Strength, poise, confidence, courage, and laughter are only a few ways to describe Katie McAlinden. She is 35 years old, a two-year survivor of breast cancer, and the most remarkable person I know. When Katie was first diagnosed with breast cancer in November of 2011 the news roared through her family and close knit group friends like an uncontrollable rage by Mother Nature. The news was shocking, devastating, and unbelievably scary for everyone…except Katie. A time usually marked with fear and uncertainty was instead a time of self-reflection and relentless fact finding. Although she must have been terrified never once did she display angst or hopelessness. True to the very definition of survivor; Katie continued to prosper in spite of opposition, hardship, or setbacks. Her strength became her motto. Her poise comforted everyone around her. Her confidence gave her the answers she needed to beat her diagnosis. Her courage has inspired others battling this disease to forge onward. Her laughter and sense of humor are the very characteristic that are bringing her family and friends across the country to attend the 2014 Kentucky Oaks Survivors Parade. Katie attended twelve consecutive Derby and Oaks events before her surgery kept her away for the past two years. This 2014 will be her “I am BACK” event and along with hope and faith she will bring excitement, passion and enthusiasm for life. As a survivor Katie has stood up and fought for others who suffer from this cruel fate. She has attended many fundraising events and most recently raised an astonishing $4,000.00 for True North Trecks an organization which supports young cancer survivors through developing a connection with nature, other survivors, and oneself. As a tribute to the extraordinary person that Katie has always been and in memory of all of those that have lost their battles with cancer- it is my wish that Katie gets to walk around the Churchill Downs track united with fellow survivors urging everyone to fight and never…ever give up.