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 ...

Meet Brooke! Baby Brooke & Grandpa 001

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 life.

A 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.0874970-R1-042-19A - Copy

One 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 passion!

When the family discovered the wonderful benefits that all special needs kids can receive from the Special Olympics program, it was only natural that she was in. Brooke became an avid and enthusiastic Special Olympics athlete on the Cameron team.

In 2001, at the age of 8, Brooke and her family were told she had developed AML Leukemia.  The war against this horrible disease began.

In 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.’  torch 001

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. 

HPIM0772After 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 KC.

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.

Golf 2

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