A Tribute to Kelly Jo Dowd
The Devotion of a Fighting Spirit
Kelly Jo Dowd, 42-year-old mother of Dakoda Dowd, the youngest golfer ever to play in the LPGA Open, relinquished her lengthy struggle against breast cancer Thursday evening, May 24, 2007. She slipped quietly from this world wrapped within the eternal love of her family at their Palm Harbor, FL home.
Last years sensational story of a young phenomenon who took the golfing world by storm, at the LPGA's Ginn Open, has become this years touching tail of a mother who reached beyond her suffering with an endless devotion to her family and a desire to impact the lives of fellow breast cancer sufferers.
The realization of Kelly Jo's greatest wish came to fruition last April, when Bobby Ginn, CEO of Ginn Clubs and Resorts, presented her then 13-year-old daughter Dakoda with a sponsor's exemption to play in the LPGA Ginn Open.
As Dakoda battled it out with some of sports most famous women golfers, her mother was battling a much fiercer foe, stage IV breast cancer. Dakoda gave the game her all but fell just short of making the cut.
"I'm prouder today than I was yesterday that my daughter has the courage and strength to play with these LPGA professionals," Kelly Jo said after the tournament. "And I feel great right now. I feel great. My dream came true out here."
The Dowd family went public last year with their story, to fulfill Kelly Jo's goal of turning her tragic mistake, to put off medical treatment, into a life saving campaign to promote breast cancer awareness. In her final days on earth, Kelly Jo achieved a measure of positive influence that the majority of us will never accomplish in an entire lifetime.
She donated her soon to be lost blonde tresses to Locks of Love, to help provide dignity to children enduring chemotherapy. As a spokesperson for 'Charity for Women', she promoted self-breast examinations and the importance of yearly mammograms. Hooters Restaurant's, where she worked as a general manager, formed the 'Kelly Jo Dowd breast cancer research fund' and produced educational videos, featuring Kelly Jo, to promote breast cancer awareness and early detection.
She and Dakoda collaborated with Making Memories Breast Cancer Foundation in a fundraising endeavor, the KJ/Koda Fund, which enables other individuals losing their fight against terminal breast cancer, an opportunity to fulfill one final treasured wish.
Kelly Jo's enduring devotion to her family, husband Mike and daughter Dakoda, showed in her desire to support Dakoda's bid for a position on the US Women's Open in Naples earlier this month. Although her frail condition left her usual rooting position on sideline unoccupied, her continued support spoke volumes via her presence in a nearby hotel room.
"Dakoda knows that whether I am there or not, I'm always here," Kelly Jo once said. "I told her I'd be her angel sitting on her shoulder, and that's what I intend to do."
A memorial service was held Tuesday May 29, 2007 at Sylvan Abbey Funeral Home 2860 Sunset Point Rd, Clearwater FL