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Kai's Crew coaxes major contributions

There are many ways to keep the memory of a lost loved one alive. Cathy Pettigrew honors her grandson, Kai, by raising record amounts of money for a local hospice program year after year.

Pettigrew, 61, of Guilderland, lost her grandson in 2003 to a grand-mal seizure. Kai, who was 10 and living in California when he died, was otherwise healthy, she said.

Pettigrew, with her son Matthew, Kai's father, and daughter-in-law Katherine, were impressed with the care Kai received from the hospice program out west and wanted to support similar programs.

It just inspired us. They were just wonderful to him, she said about the hospice program in California.

When Pettigrew came back to the Capital District, she found a Community Hospice walk pamphlet sitting on a table and decided she would become a part of the charitable event.

"I just knew what I had to do," she said. "It's a way to keep Kai's memory alive."

Pettigrew put a team together for her first walk in 2004, the year after Kai died. That year, "Kai's Crew," as they were known, did not come in first place for raising money at the walk.

But that was the last year that happened. Every year since they have come in first place in fundraising, pulling in a record amount of $10,084 in the teams category at the last walk, held on June 6.

"Every year we raised more and more money," said Pettigrew. "I was happy to do something special for my grandson."

Steve Manny, director of development for the Community Hospice Foundation said the June walk raised nearly $122,000, making Kai's Crew responsible for a significant portion of the proceeds.

Manny said Pettigrew does a great job each year, and is an asset to the walk, hosted at the University at Albany Campus.

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