ALL ABOUT BROOKE!
Bringing up Brooke’s
name in our family can bring smiles, laughter, tears and hugs and
greatly depends on the subject and who’s talking. But no matter the
reaction, we all loved her and miss her in our lives. This
tournament is about keeping her memory alive and honoring her by
raising money for something she loved: Special Olympics!
So, to get to know why
we loved her and why honoring her is so important, it’s time to ...
On March 13, 1993 in St. Joseph, Missouri, a baby girl was born to
Jason and Tonya Leitterman. They named her Brooke Lauren. But,
soon after the joy of her birth, these two young people just
starting out had to quickly face the realty that their little girl’s
life was going to be a bit of a different journey than they had
hoped and planned. Not only were they told that she was born with a
condition called Down Syndrome but she was in a health stress
situation and needed to be transferred by ambulance to Children’s
Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. A rough birth for Tonya kept her in
the hospital in St. Joseph, MO, but Jason and her new grandmother,
Janet as well as her Grandpa Dean Lange followed the ambulance to
Children's Mercy NICU, where Brooke would spend her first 10 days of
fighter from birth and with the caring, professional hands of the
doctors and nurses at Children’s Mercy, Brooke pulled through. Back
home in Cameron, the life of a very much loved little girl began.
very important part of Brooke’s life in Cameron was school and her
teacher, Pat Steele. Pat has also become a life long friend of
the Leitterman family. Brooke loved her dearly and so do we!
As her family and
friends became aware that Brooke had Down Syndrome, a life long
advocacy for what was best for her began. Brooke was the type
of child who loved everyone and, as time passed, everyone came to
know and love her-she
radiated a special kind of love! She loved sports,
competition and Special Olympics became her new favorite
When the family discovered the wonderful benefits
that all special needs kids can receive from the Special Olympics
was only natural that she was in. Brooke became an avid and
enthusiastic Special Olympics athlete on the Cameron team.
2001, at the age of 8, Brooke and her family were told she had
developed AML Leukemia. The war against this horrible disease
early 2004, Brooke was honored at a Special Olympics torch lighting
ceremony and carried the torch to start the district games in St.
Joseph MO, even though by then Brooke’s strength and hair were
pretty much gone because of all her chemo treatments.’
Even during Brooke’s valiant fight against this horrific disease,
she continued to participate in Special Olympics as her health would
allow, often winning her events. She loved the sports and she
adored her fellow athletes.
Brooke was very brave in
her attempt to fight against her biggest opponent. She was often
back in the care of the wonderful doctors and nurses at Children’s
Mercy. In efforts to find that elusive cure, family took her to St.
Jude's and finally to Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee, WI. After
two stem cell transplants as well as numerous Chemo and radiation
treatments, it was determined that there were no other treatments to
be had even though no stone was left unturned in seeking the medical
care she needed. Besides her parents, her Grandma Janet had changed
to part time jobs and
became one of her
many loving primary caregivers for what had become Brooke’s almost
constant care needs.
After a seizure in the
middle of the night at
Janet & Greg’s (Leitterman Grandparents’) home in Cameron, Brooke
took her last trip by ambulance to Children’s Mercy Hospital in
This time, recovery was
not to be. Brooke lost her race against Leukemia. On November 23, 2004 at
the age of 11 years, 8 month and 10 days, Brooke Lauren Leitterman
earned her angel wings.
CLICK HERE to view more pictures of
Brooke and her family!
Brooke often benefited from the
money raised by the golf tournament that now bears her name.
She would often attend the
dinner following the tournament; even helping draw for door
prizes and handing out trophies! People always seemed
to look forward to seeing her when she participated.