Wittenberg-Birnamwood junior fighting Hodgkin lymphoma

School, community rallying behind Katie Donat

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Keeping a positive attitude during her treatments for Hodgkin lymphoma makes the time away from school and her friends go faster, Wittenberg-Birnamwood High School junior Katie Donat says.

The Wittenberg-Birnamwood community is rallying around a girl battling cancer.

By all accounts, Katie Donat was an energetic, happy-go-lucky teenager enjoying her years at Wittenberg-Birnamwood High School and spending time with family and friends.

She was a member of the cheerleading team, though knee injuries cut her seasons short during both her freshman and sophomore years. This year, as a 16-year-old junior, she planned to join the dance team.

Then came a setback.

In early December, Katie complained about severe chest pains to her parents, Kimberly and Bill Donat. She was originally diagnosed with pneumonia, but two weeks later, after another test, she was sent to American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison. A biopsy revealed Hodgkin lymphoma.

Due to changes in her father’s insurance through work, Katie is being treated at the Marshfield Children’s Hospital. The treatment includes several trips a week for the next four to five months for chemotherapy.

To help defray the family’s expenses, members of the Charger Athletic Club at Wittenberg-Birnamwood High School have been holding various fundraisers.

“I’m very touched and appreciative of everything everyone is doing to show support,” Katie said.

Despite her chemotherapy treatments, she is keeping up with her school work and earning good grades. She’s on track to graduate early in the spring of her senior year and would like to attend a technical college for a position in the medical field so she can help others.

The WBHS dance team is scheduled to perform a new routine to Katy Perry’s song “Rise,” dedicated to Katie and created by co-coach Michelle Schoepke, at the wrestling match Thursday.

“The reason I chose the song ‘Rise’ by Katy Perry is because it is about the ability to overcome and rise,” Schoepke said. “It seemed to be the perfect song for Katie.”

Dance team members Becki Reid and Theresa Alexander have known Katie since grade school.

“She’s always been there for me,” Alexander said.

Alexander said Katie’s diagnosis “was such a big shock to all of us,” but everyone has remained confident.

“She’s very strong, and I know she’ll get through it,” Alexander said. “But it is very scary.”

“It makes me really sad because she doesn’t deserve it. It shouldn’t happen to anyone, especially as young as she is,” Reid said.

The Donats have been married for 17 years and have a blended family of six children. Hannah, 24, William, 23, and Faith Donat, 21, are Bill’s children from a previous marriage. Caleb Petersen, 23, and Jacob Petersen, 21, are Kimberly’s children from a previous marriage. Katie is their only daughter together.

“We are overwhelmed by the response and how the community has really come together to show how much they care,” Kimberly Donat said. “The money is going toward medical expenses, prescriptions and travel expenses for treatment. Your prayers are very much appreciated.”


To donate to the Katie Donat Cancer Fund, visit www.gofundme.com/katiecancer online or go to any U.S. Bank location.